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PASSAGES Political activist Michael Bauer passes away
by Matt Simonette
2019-08-30

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Activist Michael Bauer passed away Aug. 29 after a long bout with cancer. Bauer, who was an attorney and executive, had been a prominent fundraiser on behalf of numerous Chicago politicians, among them mayor Lori Lightfoot, for whom he was an early supporter as well as her campaign's finance chair.

A native of Chicago's East Rogers Park neighborhood, Bauer became heavily involved in political fundraising in the mid-'90s; he focused his energies on LGBT, women and Jewish communities.

Besides Lightfoot, Bauer worked on campaigns for Judges Tom Chiola and Sebastian Patti; U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Dick Durbin; and Ald. Tom Tunney. He said he was inspired by the activism of physician Ron Sable, who ran to be 44th Ward alderman in 1987 and 1991.

All those Bauer supported, he told Windy City Times in an August 2019 interview, were "really smart people."

"They've all really been smart on policy issues, and I'd be the first to tell you I'm not," Bauer said. "If you ask me about city issues—what we should do about economic development, transportation or pensions, for example—I'm going to look at you and have no clue."

Bauer was a frequent guest on host Bruce DuMont's radio program Beyond the Beltway. On Facebook, DuMont called Bauer "the personification of civil discourse." He added that Bauer's "broad smile and his great sense of humor made a great combination with Michael's passion and spirited defense of progressive causes."

Indeed, Bauer's Facebook page included myriad tributes from friends the evening of August 29.

Illinois Department of Human Rights Director Jim Bennett said, "Sad to hear of Michael Bauer passing. He did so much good and made doing good so joyous and fun. In my world, Michael fought against poverty with Shriver Center, he was a founder of Lambda's Midwest office, and he was at the Capitol on the front lines whenever our civil rights—in the greatest and most expansive definition—could move forward or be threatened. [He] did so much more in so many places than I can even imagine."

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy said, "Tonight I lost one of my very dearest friends, but my sweet son lost his godfather and telling him Michael Bauer was gone gutted me. We have built an amazing family here but Mike has been at its center for what feels like forever. Rest well my friend—the lives you've touched, the ways you changed this world for the better, and the love you gave our boys are an amazing legacy. I am so thankful to have had the gift of your friendship and love."

State Rep. Ann Williams added, "My heart is broken to learn about the loss of this beautiful man—so full of life passion and love."

Attorney and activist Coco Soodek said that Bauer "was a one of a kind man in full with many many friends and a remarkable husband in Roger. He inspired strong feelings in all who knew him. His contributions to Chicago, Democrats and many causes and activists are profound and impactful."

Both Bauer's parents were Holocaust survivors, and he is survived by his mother, who is now 103 and with whom he spoke several times a day, as well as his husband of 37 years, Roger Simon.

A funeral service is scheduled for Sept. 3 at 10 a.m. at Anshe Emet Synagogue, 3751 N. Broadway.

Recent Windy City Times interview with Michael Bauer at www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Michael-Bauer-reflects-on-a-life-of-activism/66831.html .

Also chicagogayhistory.com/biographies_alpha.html .


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