Their relationship dates back 20 years, when both Frank Zurek and Larry Scott were work colleagues at Amoco Corporation and began going to lunch together, sometimes as often as four times per week. That friendship developed into something deeper and they then began having drinks and dinners after work.
Neither was out at work, so they didn't come out to each other for months.
Then one day, while having drinks together after work at The North End in Lakeview, each admitted he was gay.
"I don't recall where the first real dinner date was, but it was downtown after work and Frank ordered calamari," Scott said. "That fact alone guaranteed I wanted a second date because I'm an adventurous eater. This was in January 1996; by Valentine's Day, we considered ourselves a couple."
Fast-forward to Sept. 12, 2015, to a short walk to the lakefront from North End, or Cell Block, where they also frequented in the mid-1990s. More importantly, there was also the famous totem pole near Addison Street.
"The primary significance is that [the totem pole] is where we meet with the Frontrunners/Frontwalkers each week. Second as native Chicagoans, the lakefront is symbolic of the city and certainly a beautiful place to have a wedding ceremony. And, the totem pole is in Boystown, and we gay men, [so] it symbolizes the social aspect of our living in Chicago," Scott said.
Cheers followed the short morning ceremony, officiated by Judge James E. Snyder, who also is a runner in training for a marathon.
"Although we thought about having the ceremony in Florida, [where we now are living, except for the summers in Chicago, but] we have family and friends in Chicago where we had lived our entire lives before we moved to Florida in 2009," Scott said. "We decided that we would get married in Chicago and only wanted to have a small civil ceremony, but we wanted to include our family and friends from the Chicago area."
Zurek added, "Although we did not want to do anything very elaborate, we were certainly not averse to something different and unique. The one idea that seemed to grab us was the thought of holding the ceremony at the totem pole, where we walk [from] twice a week with the Chicago Frontrunners/Frontwalkers while we are in Chicago during the summer. We thought about the best time for the ceremony, [be it] before or after the run, and decided that before would be best since everyone would be there and fresh before the run."
They ran the idea past David Reithoffer, president of Chicago Frontrunners, so he could check with the Board and make sure the idea would be acceptable. "When he gave us the approval, we had a week to throw the event together," Scott said.
Zurek, 66, originally retired in 2008 and then formally retired in 2014 from Acro Staffing as a consultant, IT procurement. Scott, 61, retired as an IT manager from INEOS Corporation in 2009.
They live in Wilton Manors, Florida, when not in Chicago.
The couple went on a traditional walk after their vows, photos and more celebratory cheers.
Scott and Zurek had matching shirts and shorts, with their Frontrunners/Frontwalkers running shirts underneath that went on display after they were pronounced husband and husband.
Both noted that the predominantly gay Frontrunners/Frontwalkers provides an opportunity to meet other LGBT on a social level, as well as providing regular exercise. "The group is quite diverse and we enjoy conversing with the members during social events and dinners and breakfast," Scott said. "We have developed great friendships with some of the members who have come down to visit us in Florida during the winter. And some of our Florida Frontrunners have visited us in Chicago during the summer as well."
Zurek added, "Certainly when I was coming-out as a young man in Chicago, I never envisioned that one day we would actually be able to get married. I feel that I was fortunate living in Chicago where an active GLBT community was evolving. Although Larry and I have now been together almost 20 years, it seems only right to formalize our relationship and call each other 'husband.'"