Lawrence Michael Sauer
17 Jan 1953 - 20 Feb 2003
Larry M. Sauer, a gay political activist, graphic designer, and former professional ballet dancer, died of cancer at his Upper West Side home on February 20.
At the time of his death, Sauer, who turned 50 in January, was surrounded by friends and family, including his partner of eight years, Dale Henderson.
Born in the Bronx, Sauer pursued a rich array of professional, cultural, and gay opportunities that life in New York City offered him.
A professional dancer as a young man after earning a BFA from Lehman College, he later gained an MBA at Fordham University and practiced accounting. In more recent years, Sauer developed his own computer graphics design firm.
A longtime member of the Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats (GLID), Sauer served two terms on Community School Board 3 serving the Upper West Side, winning election in 1996 and 1999. He was the first out gay school board president in the city.
In 2001, he ran unsuccessfully for the open 6th district City Council seat vacated when term limits forced veteran progressive Ronnie Eldridge out of office. Democrat Gale Brewer was the winner in that race.
During the Council race, Sauer told Gay City News' Duncan Osborne, "Number one is education."
Sauer was active in recent years with the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Alliance (GLSEN).
Steven Skyles-Mulligan, a friend of Sauer's since 1995 who worked on the 2001 Council race, remembered the warm response the candidate received from parents whom he had met in his school board work. "One guy that came by the campaign who Larry helped get his daughter into kindergarten," Skyles-Mulligan said.
Also commenting on Sauer's commitment to the issue of education, Daniel O'Donnell, who just took office as the State Assemblymember from the Upper West Side's 69th district, said, "Larry was profoundly concerned about the welfare of children--that they thrive and succeed."
He added that Sauer possessed a quality not all that common in the political world.
"The thing I told his parents when I saw them at the funeral on Sunday was that Larry was among the most generous men I ever met," O'Donnell told Gay City News. "Not a rich one. But he gave and offered and expected nothing in return."
O'Donnell, who became a political activist as a 12-year-old George McGovern volunteer in 1972 and worked on the 1992 Clinton campaign, said he never worked hands-on in a local campaign until he pitched in on Sauer's first school board campaign in 1996.
Others this week remembered Sauer for his love of culture and recreation. Both Skyles-Mulligan and Evan Schwartz, a friend for more than a decade, got to know him through the Times Squares, a gay and lesbian square dancing group that Sauer led for a number of years in the 90s. Schwartz recalled that he and Sauer often went to dance performances together as well as to new productions presented by the Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Schwartz described Sauer as passionate, witty, and having a wonderful laugh, but also as someone who was remarkably free of irony or bitchiness.
Henderson, his partner, said that Sauer may be best remembered for the fact that across his broad range of interests, he always "went at everything with 100 percent focus."
"He is going to be missed by everyone who knew him," Henderson said, "especially myself and our pup Star," the couple's big, mixed-breed dog.
Sauer's funeral at the Campbell Funeral Home on the Upper East Side on February 23 reflected the broad reach of his life. According to Skyles-Mulligan, the event drew nearly two dozen members of the Times Squares and an equal number of GLID members. Congress member Jerrold Nadler, Assembly members O'Donnell and Deborah Glick, and City Councilmembers Brewer and Christine Quinn were also in attendance.
O'Donnell dedicated his formal Assembly inauguration ceremony to Sauer.
In addition to Dale Henderson, Larry Sauer is also survived by his parents, Joe and Dorothy Sauer of Florida, and his sisters, Annette Cort and Noreen Levine, both of New York.
Larry Sauer, a member of Times Squares since 1990, died peacefully at home on February 20, 2003. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer. He was active in the club for many years, serving twice as Plus archangel and spending three years on the Board of Directors. He was President in 1995. In recent years, his extensive involvement in public policy and community issues prevented him from attending dances very often, although he frequently provided behind the scenes support.
Those who knew Larry well appreciated his great warmth and sense of humor, which often had him giggling to diffuse stressful situations. He was caring and generous and committed to the idea that it was always possible to do better.
In addition to his work with Times Squares, over the years he helped rebuild a neighborhood block association, save a park from drug dealers, preserve a historic public structure and hold school administrators accountable. Larry loved the arts, and frequented Lincoln Center and various other venues.
He was a member of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah. He is survived by his longtime partner, Mr. Dale Henderson. Funeral services were held on Sunday, February 23. The family has requested that any memorial donations be made to Beth Israel Hospice; contact their development department at 212-387-6800.
- Gay City News, 28 Feb 2003, p.10,16.
- Times Squared newsletter, v.18 no.5 (March 2003) p.4.