One of the seminal founders of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center in Fort Lauderdale, Alan Schubert, passed away last Wednesday, June 1, 2016. Cancer took his life. Alan was 70 years old, and residing in Oakland Park at the time of his death, relocating to South Florida from Chicago only months ago.
Survived by Robert Suzuki, his spouse, Alan's legacy will be long lasting. The building that houses the Pride Center at Equality Park bears his name, testimony to his philanthropic giving and workmanlike initiatives in launching the Pride Center back in 1993. Tributes came in from all sources, recognizing the intense passion and zealous fervor with which Alan lived his life.
After attending the University of Illinois, Alan founded Labor World in 1974, a temporary help provider in Chicago, which quickly became a leader in the industry. But he yearned for warm weather, and relocated to South Florida in 1984, where he immersed himself in causes that helped others. He underwrote numerous charitable endeavors, providing financial support to the Broward Gay and Lesbian Youth Group, the Child Care Connection, the Jewish AIDS Network, along with the Broward Public Library, Human Rights Campaign, Center One and Tuesday's Angels.
Alan's heart though, was set upon finding a steady place where gays and lesbians could meet and congregate safely. From a second floor rental in an office building on Oakland Park Boulevard to a stand alone structure on Andrews Avenue, Alan's legacy is now the Pride Center at Equality Park, a 5 and a half acre campus with 35,000 square feet of meeting space.
An intense man with a love for reading and life, Alan moved back to Chicago roughly ten years ago, to manage the business he founded, returning back to South Florida earlier this year. By his side upon his passing his twin sister, Barbara Fields, and his husband Robert. While the cremation services were private, the Pride Center will hold a memorial tribute and homage to Alan on June 23, at their monthly Founder's meeting.
The Pride Center issued this formal statement:
"His impact on this community and beyond is immeasurable. In 1993, Schubert--philanthropist and gay pioneer--conceived the idea for the then Gay and Lesbian Community Center of South Florida. Alan determined that a safe community center in Fort Lauderdale could assist existing and new groups serving the LGBTQ communities. Twenty three years later this month, The Center continues to honor Alan's original vision. Alan and his husband Robert recently moved back to South Florida. Our Center family has enjoyed the opportunity to hear directly from Alan his joy at the growth and evolution of The Center. Our thoughts and prayers are with his partner Robert, their family and friends."
I'm very fortunate to have known Alan Schubert for over 10 years. Over the years he used to randomly call me up and the first thing he'd say was "Do you know who this is?" It always cracked me up because his voice was so distinctive. Although he lived many miles away he always kept track of The Center and watched our progress. You could hear how proud he was in his voice. We wouldn't be here without Alan Schubert. His vision, his ability to build healthy coalitions, his passion and his skill laid the foundation for all that The Center has become.
When he and Robert moved back to the area we were all excited. He came to our Tuesday Coffee and Conversation gathering of hundreds of LGBT Seniors a couple of times. Tears filled his eyes to see so many people gathered together. That is the picture I will forever keep in my heart and mind of Alan. We will miss him dearly.
Jim Stork, Former Mayor of Wilton Manors
Alan's vision, leadership and determination raised the bar for everyone. He truly inspired me to do more for my community.
Richard Gray, Greater Fort Lauderdale Tourism Development Board
I remember vividly how Alan would visit with me after I opened The Royal Palms in 1991 and share his dream and vision of opening a Gay Community Center here in Greater Fort Lauderdale. He was so passionate and persistent. How could I not resist his charm and belief. I became one of the first Founders with a donation of $5,000.
What an incredible journey it has been and I am so incredibly proud that it has now become the 7th largest Pride Center in the World.
Gary Resnick, Mayor of Wilton Manors
My sympathies to Alan's husband and family. I was privileged to know Alan when I first got involved in Wilton Manors. His wonderful support for the creation of the GLBT community center -- now the Pride Center at Equality Park in Wilton Manors - inspired many people including myself. We will honor Alan's many contributions to our community.
Dean Trantalis, Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner
Alan Schubert blessed us with his vision and determination to bring unity to a community that was still seeking an identity and purpose. I worked with Alan for many years in trying to achieve this vision, joining with him from the start to establish our Community Center, and later to assist the Center as it grew and took shape through the many challenges which confronted it. His personal investment in both money and time is without equal, and he is one of many angels who have allowed the LGBT community to prosper. May his memory be eternal.
Robin Bodiford, Attorney and Activist
I will always remember Alan for his infectious smile and that special twinkle in his eye, his enthusiasm and devotion to the task of gaining acceptance for the gay community at a point in history - a turning point -where gays were still widely reviled as perverts but the possibility of equality shimmered on the horizon. Alan was one of the heroes whose hopes and dreams are still coming to fruition as we gain LGBT equality. I am proud to have worked beside him.
Dr. Ross Seligson, Psychotherapist
I was at the initial Founders Meeting for GLCC at Alan's home. He was an incredible motivator who had vision and made the center a reality. He was a friend of Juliette Love. I miss my friends.
Dilia Loe, Past Executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Center of Greater Fort Lauderdale
Alan was the best mentor for a young activist. He was kind, wise and generous with his time, energy and financial support. He set the bar high for the board presidents and philanthropist with whom I would work. I appreciated his humor and gentle spirit, his love of animals and his devotion to Robert. He will be missed.
Norm Kent, SFGN Publisher
Knowing Alan Schubert for decades was a privilege. He was a man of unyielding enthusiasm, incalculable drive, exhaustive determination, and boundless energy. His moral force founded a community center on one hand, and seeded an entire community on the other. Though retired, and relocated, his name still graces the foundation of the Pride Center, and he will always be recalled and revered as a special person within our midst. To his spouse, Robert, our loving thoughts; to our community, a moment to reflect about a man who led the battle against HIV, and fought the good fight for human rights before it was popular to do so.