AIDS activist, philanthropist dies in Colorado
Thomas Gehling, the cofounder of a Colorado Springs, Colo., gay bar and a supporter of many AIDS- and gay-related charities, died last week of complications from pneumonia in Colorado Springs, the Denver Post reports. He was 59. Gehling and his partner of 35 years, Joe Brady, were the co-owners of Hide 'N Seek, Colorado Springs's oldest gay bar. The pair in the 1980s also bought two houses near the bar and turned them into Lambda House, the first AIDS hospice in the city. Gehling, a Navy veteran, and Brady were early AIDS activists and frequently invited health workers to conduct safer-sex workshops at Hide 'N Seek. The pair also organized free meal services at the bar every Christmas, New Year's Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving for low-income city residents and donated 10 cents from every drink purchased to several charitable groups.
"Tom and Joe's attitude was that they were there to help, to give something back to the gay community," said John Potterat, who worked at the Colorado Springs public health department's STD division.
Gehling is survived by Brady; his mother, Genevieve Gehling; two sisters; and two brothers. A memorial service was held Saturday at Hide 'N Seek.