Richard William Pfeiffer, coordinator of the annual Chicago Pride Parade since 1974 and a member of Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, died Sunday, October 6. He was 70.
Tim Frye, Pfeiffer’s husband of 48 years, shared the news with GoPride.com. Pfeiffer battled cancer for the past two years, according to Frye. The funeral will be held at Drake & Son Funeral Home in West Edgewater. Time and date to be announced.
“One of our earliest and longest-serving activists, Rich Pfeiffer made history as he gave our community decades of committed, effective service,” said Art Johnston, Sidetrack co-owner and co-founder of Equality Illinois. “Under Rich’s year-round consistent leadership Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade grew from a few hundred participants and observers to thousands of marchers and over a million viewers, reflecting the amazing growth of our communities.”
Pfeiffer watched Chicago’s first-ever parade in 1970, was a volunteer marshal at the second, third and fourth parades, and he volunteered to be the coordinator at the fifth parade in 1974. He held the title through this year’s 50th annual Chicago Pride Parade.
“It is a tribute to Rich that our parade has thrived with very little of the controversies which have marked so many other parades across our country,” Johnston added.
Pfeiffer was involved with PRIDEChicago since its inception. Having organized dances, rallies, workshops in addition to facilitating the annual Pride Parade. He first became involved in Chicago’s LGBT community in 1970 and eventually became president of three organizations: The Chicago Gay Alliance (which operated the city’s first gay community center), Horizons Community Services, and the Gay Activist Coalition of Loop (now Harold Washington College).
He founded the Gay Speaker’s Bureau, also a gay couple’s networking group, and was a facilitator of a class in Chicago Gay History for Lavender University, a 1970’s instructional group.Pfeiffer was a volunteer writer and columnist for the now-defunct Chicago Gay Crusader and Gay Life newspapers. In the 1980s, he received awards for community service in the Metropolitan Business Association and Gay Chicago Magazine.
In 1993, he was inducted into the City of Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.Pfeiffer was also a member of the mayor’s Advisory Council on gay and lesbian issues from 1985 to 1994 under three different mayors.