CHICAGO (CBS) — Richard Pfeiffer, a Chicago LGBTQ community leader who had served as the coordinator of the Chicago Pride Parade for decades, died over the weekend.
Published reports said Pfeiffer was 70 when he died on Sunday. Pfeiffer had battled cancer for the past two years, his husband, Tim Frye, told the publication GoPride.com.
The Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame pointed out that Pfeiffer served as an activist and volunteer for more than 50 years. He was head of the Chicago Gay Alliance – which ran the first LGBTQ community center in the city at 171 W. Elm St. – and he also founded the Gay Activist Coalition, the first LGBTQ organization on a City Colleges of Chicago campus, his Hall of Fame biography said.
But Pfeiffer was best known as the head of PrideChicago, which facilitates the annual Chicago Pride Parade. He has been involved with the parade organization since 1971, a year after it was founded, his biography said.
Pfeiffer volunteered to be the parade coordinator in 1974, and held the title all the way up through the 50th annual parade this year, according to GoPride.com.
This past June, Pfeiffer talked with CBS 2 about the changes he had seen since he first became the parade coordinator. He said in the beginning, there were only about 100 marchers gathered around Washington Square, or Bughouse Square.
“It was an era where you had a lot to lose if you were openly gay (but) the parade basically saved my life,” he said. “I just watched all these people who were just like me marching down the street, being proud of who they are and it made me come out of my shell.”
Today, the event is pulled off with the help of hundreds of volunteers who will help coordinate 160 parade entries; including floats, vehicles, marching bands, and dozens of elected officials and candidates for elected office.
Pfeiffer was also appointed by Mayor Harold Washington as a founding member of the Committee on Gay/Lesbian Issues in 1985, his biography said. He was reappointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley and served on what later became the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Gay and Lesbian issues until 1994, under three mayors – Washington, Eugene Sawyer, and Daley, according to GoPride.com.
Pfeiffer is survived by Frye, his husband of 48 years, according to GoPride.com.