Chuck Hyde, 55, a longtime general manager of Sidetrack bar in Chicago, passed away April 6 in Florida of heart disease.
Hyde, who was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame (now the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame) in 2001, went to work at Sidetrack in July, 1982, just three months after it opened. He was at one point a co-owner of the bar as well. After serving in various capacities over the years, Hyde settled into the role of general manager.
Hyde moved to South Florida in August 2016 and had been working at the Hunters Nightclub Fort Lauderdale.
He was married to Randy D'Agostino. They met in 1993May 6th would have been their 24th anniversary. "We met through a friend, on a boat on Lake Michigan," he said. "We were married three years ago in Palm Springs."
"He was my husband, my best friend," D'Agostino said. "We traveled, and had adventures. We appreciated our friends very much."
D'Agostino said Hyde was very modest about taking praise, "he was known for what he did for all those community benefits and fundraisers. The staff loved him."
There was an outpouring of support for Hyde as soon as his passing was announced on social media. He had gone into the hospital for bypass surgery.
Sidetrack posted: "The Sidetrack Family is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Co-Owner and General Manager Chuck Hyde. Chuck helped to shape Sidetrack for over 30 years. He influenced so much of what Sidetrack has done as a business and as a part of the LGBTQ community. Our thoughts are with his husband, Randy D'Agostino and the rest of his family. We will continue to post additional information as is becomes available."
"Chuck was a pioneer in convincing beer, wine and spirits-related companies to financially support LGBTQ organizations, especially those who might not ordinarily have any connection to those companies," said Art Johnston, co-owner of Sidetrack.
"Chuck was a dear friend of 30 years and losing him is losing a brother," said Elizabeth McKnight. "Words cannot convey the loss that Dalila and I feel. Randy is surrounded by the love and support of the Chicago and Ft. Lauderdale LGBT communities. The outpouring of love from so many people is overwhelming. Chuck was a powerful force and I am proud to call him my brother."
Amy Matheny, formerly the host of Windy City Radio, wrote on Facebook that Hyde was a "profound advocate and ally" to the LGBT community.
She added, "Chuck was instrumental in advancing our LGBT communityworking tirelessly and passionately with individuals and organizations. And he was fantastic at mobilizing brands, companies, products to give support to the LGBT community (there was nobody better) and that changed livesusually one fabulous party, one fabulous event at a time."
Hyde developed a reputation as an astute consultant for fundraisers, many of them held at the nightclub. Among the organizations he assisted, according to his Hall of Fame entry, were Equality Illinois, Test Positive Aware Network, AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, About Face Theatre, Chicago Gay Men's Chorus, Metropolitan Sports Association. Windy City Gay Chorus, Chicago Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Open Hand Chicago, Frontrunners/Frontwalkers Chicago, Howard Brown Health, Chicago House, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and Gerber/Hart Library and Archives.
"He was always humble, rarely in the spotlight, and yet diligently and quietly went about making huge contributions to our way of life with his work and efforts," Matheny said.
Last August, when Hyde started work for their bar, Hunter's Fort Lauderdale posted this on Facebook: "Chuck and his husband of 23 years, Randy D'Agostino, recently moved to Fort Lauderdale to escape the winter madness of the North after having several conversations with Mark Seymour and Patrick Volkert, the owners of Hunters."
Hyde said at the time: "For the last 15 years, we have visited Fort Lauderdale, fell in love with the area, watched it grow and knew that one day we would move here, settle in and hope to continue to work and live in this vibrant community just as we did in Chicago. … I have been blessed by such good friends and family in this world and believe that my role is to continue to grow, support and inspire those in our community to protect our rights, secure and celebrate our future."
"The Legacy Project's cofounders and various board members had the pleasure to work with Chuck across multiple organizational relationships over the years," said Legacy Project founder Victor Salvo. "Between us, several dozen events were all held at Sidetrack, all coordinated through Chuck. He was always there as a consummate professional. Always with a smile. Whip-smart. Kind. Creative. Generous. The Legacy Project had the pleasure to work with Chuck on the first couple of events we hosted there, beginning with our Inaugural Dedication Oct. 11, 2012the largest Legacy event ever held anywhere. We were all nervous wrecks. Chuck made it look easy. Privately, he was also a good friend to many of us … one of the sweetest, gentlest spirits ever. His untimely death leaves us shattered and grieving. Our heart goes out to his life partner, Randy. Rest In Peace, Chuck. You were one of the greats."
"I worked with Chuck for many years on more events than I can even remember," said longtime activist and business owner Mary Morten. "He, along with Art and Pepe leading the way, operated what I called the 'other community center.' So kind, generous and helpful! We have had many good times at Sidetrack and Chuck was a huge part of them. He will be deeply missed!"
"Affinity, and specifically Jazz 'n July, from its inception was made possible by the generous support of Sidetrack and specifically Chuck's personalized, generous and tailored donations to support the institutional work of the organization. His presence is a loss for the entire LGBTQ community," said Chris Smith, co-founder of Affinity Community Services.
Kim Hunt, executive director of Pride Action Tank and former executive director of Affinity, said "Chuck was a huge supporter of Affinity Community Services and a joy to work with. He always made sure we had his best bartenders at our events and that things went smoothly on his end. But he was mostly a behind the scenes guy. The last time I saw Chuck was about a year before I left Affinity. We were giving him an award. He was so touched by the honor that he could barely speak. He moved us all to tears that night. The world won't be the same without him."
The Chicago Gender Society sent this statement: "There are occasions in one's life where you get to meet and work with someone who is truly special. Chuck Hyde was one of those people. We are truly saddened and find ourselves at a loss on hearing that a great friend has passed away. Chuck was one of those persons that went out of his way for you with his generosity and recognized that we are all together. There are many people that have been the recipient of his generosity and were never aware of where it came from. As members of the Transgender community we are extremely fortunate to have known and shared many wonderful times together. We will sorely miss him and can only think of him as a dear friend, benefactor and inspiration. We want also to let his partner Randy and all his other friends and family know that we will have him in our hearts forever."
Hyde was born Sept. 12, 1961 in Gloucester, Mass. He attended Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana. His parents preceded him in death, and in addition to his husband, he is survived by a sister and brother.
There are plans to raise funds to cover his medical expenses. There will be a memorial in Ft. Lauderdale and one in Chicago. Details will be announced soon.
Other community comments included:
Christopher Stryker: "Chuck was one of my favorite people. I meet him at the mr Windy City contest when I was just 21 in 1983. Just before Sidetrack opened. He was always kind. And touch my life in a wounded way."
Kathleen Ulm: "Chuck was so easy going and fun to work with when we did any event with Sidetrack. He was welcoming to everyone and always was smiling and making you feel like he enjoyed his job and those around him. What a huge loss to all those who knew him."
Kirk Williamson: "I'm absolutely devastated. Hands down, one of the most spectacular individuals I had had the honor of meeting as editor of Nightspots and beyond. You will be sorely missed."
Richard Knight, Jr.: "Terrible, terrible news. Thinking of Art and Pepe and the entire Sidetrack family Chuck loved and our community he served so mightily for so many years."
Ted Grady: "What a terribly sad loss. Chuck always had a smile on his face and was always willing to go above and beyond. Such a generous and kind spirit. He will be missed by so many."
A memorial will be held May 21 at 1 p.m. at the Center on Halsted.