Longtime Chicago activist Gerald Pagorek has passed away, Windy City Times has learned.
Pagorek, who was especially active in HIV/AIDS-related causes, especially the Open Hand Chicago food pantry ( now Vital Bridges Center on Chronic Care ), was 76.
Writer/Activist Owen Keehnen wrote on Facebook that Pagorek was "a kind and giving man, and a shining example of an AIDS activist and volunteer. When the epidemic hit Chicago, Jerry was there, front and center. He was an early volunteer and formative force at Open Hand. Jerry gave tirelessly of himself to such organizations as the Names Project, AIDS Walk Chicago, and Howard Brown [Health], working through his personal grief and fears by being of service. That's a hero, and his example was inspiring."
Pagorek had been ill for some time. Prior to his passing, Sharyl Holtzman, a former colleague in activism who now lives in the Los Angeles area, wrote on Facebook that Pagorek "gave endlessly, while he was enveloped in loss, soul crushing loss as AIDS ravaged. … Go in peace Jerry, to a place where there is buddha, gorgeous flowers, a bit 'o weed, fabulous cocktails."
Note: This story will be updated.