04 May 1923 - 29 May 2010
Dr. Walter Lear, one of Philadelphia’s most renowned LGBT leaders and the region’s first out public official, died May 29. He was 87.
Lear had been in Keystone Hospice and died from kidney failure stemming from multiple myeloma, a bone cancer he was diagnosed with four years ago.
The cancer had gone into remission but returned last year and, shortly after beginning treatments, Lear suffered a stroke that affected his vision and mobility and left him unable to continue with his cancer treatments.
For decades, Lear was at the forefront of civil-rights, health and LGBT activism, both nationally and locally, and was influential in the founding of many current Philadelphia LGBT community agencies.
Lear was born in 1923 in New York City and grew up in Miami before heading north to earn his bachelor of science degree in 1943 from Harvard University. Three years later, he attained his medical degree from the Long Island College of Medicine and a master’s degree in health administration from Columbia University’s School of Public Health in 1948.
Lear began his relationship with partner James Payne in 1953, and the two were still together at the time of his death.
— Jen Colletta
- Philadelphia Gay News (Philadelphia, PA) 3 Jun 2010