When Chicago decided to re-bid for the Gay Games, Dick and Joe were among the earliest supporters, loaning seed money - in a gigantic leap of faith - so that the initial expenses could be covered. Their support could have ended there, but did not.
When Dick and Joe heard about the Chosen Few South African women's soccer team in late 2005, they offered to help underwrite scholarships for the team to attend Gay Games VII. Chosen Few's members live in Soweto, with few resources to attend an international tournament. As time moved on, it was clear that the entire GGVII scholarship program needed additional support, not just for Chosen Few, but also for the Bura team from Croatia and individual athletes from South America, Asia, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Europe, the United Kingdom, and even from parts of the United States. So Dick and Joe stepped up more than the Gay Games organizers could have hoped for to underwrite the remaining scholarships. In total, Dick and Joe provided 75% of the funding for the Gay Games scholarships.
In 1964, La Pat enlisted in the Army and served with distinction, including a tour in Germany, where he was a member of the military police.
On May 25, 1969, La Pat and Uyvari met at the Castaways bar in Milwaukee, and it was love at first sight. They were together for 39 years, until La Pat's death. They liked to comment that they met exactly five weeks before the Stonewall Riots in New York that sparked the modern gay-rights movement.
As a couple, La Pat and Uyvari were key supporters of the Center on Halsted building campaign. They also were part of the Strike Against AIDS bowling benefits, and made available a property that became the first location used by Chicago House, a residence for people with AIDS. In 2006, they were critical financial supporters of Gay Games VII, underwriting the scholarship program that helped to bring athletes from around the world. They also helped retire the Gay Games debt by creating a matching fund.
“Without the support of Dick and Joe, the Gay Games could not have brought in athletes from South Africa, Croatia and beyond,” said Tracy Baim, co vice-chair of the Chicago Gay Games board, and a friend of the couple. “Joe was always the quiet one, but when he heard the story of the South African soccer team, he became a passionate advocate to bring them to the U.S. He believed strongly in the mission of the Gay Games, and he and Dick were our biggest allies.”
“He always was a pillar of support in the background that allowed me to be the front guy,” Uyvari said. “Without him I could not have done any of the things I did.”
His generosity for family, friends and community, was limitless, even when it meant personal sacrifice for him. He was a gracious host, “an All-American man who also loved taking care of the home,” Uyvari said. “He loved gardening, cooking, anything around the house.”
A public memorial will be held on Saturday, July 26, from noon to 3 p.m. at Misericordia Home, 6300 N. Ridge Ave. in Chicago.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the South African soccer team and Scholarship Program at: http://teamchicago.org/federation.html. Donations can also be made to the Center on Halsted at: http://www.centeronhalsted.org/.
For a 2007 video interview with La Pat, see http://www.chicagogayhistory.org/.
Source: adapted from Windy City Times text and Gay Games VII Book by Tracy Baim.