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PASSAGES: LGBT ally Cepek dies at age 69
2017-03-15

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John Cepek—an LGBT ally ( through the group PFLAG, formerly known as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays ) who suffered a brain injury Feb. 27 while traveling in Croatia with his wife Char—died March 15 at age 69.

Also on Feb. 27, in a separate incident, Char broke her wrist.

Son Michael wrote on Facebook, "A truly beautiful soul left the earth today. This afternoon, my father, John Richard Cepek, died peacefully in Munich, Germany, at the age of 69. I was at his side with my mother and brother. The cause of death was a traumatic brain injury suffered after he tripped and fell while on vacation in Croatia.

"So many people grew to know and love my dad over the years: through his committed activism as national president of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays ( PFLAG ); through his decades of work for the University of Illinois at Chicago; and, most importantly, as the instantly likable and gentle guy whose humor, compassion, and love for people and animals were so, so evident in everything he did. ( The last word he uttered before he entered a coma was "Sammy," the name of his beloved dog. )

"We are flooded with horrible grief, which will surely last for months and years. Eventually, though, we will take comfort as we watch his legacy of love, care, and struggle for justice continue to grow and make this world a better place. We will let everyone know when we arrange a remembrance ceremony for him in Chicago later this year. Rest in peace, Dad—you were the best, and we all love you so much."

In 2010, John penned a letter in Windy City Times to youth. The letter is at WindyCityMediaGroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php. In November 2016, John and Char took part in the OUTspoken LGBTQ storytelling series at Sidetrack.

[UPDATE: The memorial will be Friday, May 12, 4 p.m., UIC's East Side, Cardinal room. John was honored at PFLAG National's Straight for Equality Gala held this past Monday in NYC.]


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