I had the honor of transporting Dick to and from our annual retreat the last few years Dick was able to go. We also were roommates at retreat each year. So I got to spend more than a few hours with Dick over a few years.
One of the things I had to accept about spending time with Dick was that conversation did not happen most of the time: he spoke in monologues, at least with me. Of course, he had many wonderful stories about his life, the life of the chorus, and the LGBT movement. He was a prominent activist all his adult life, as many have noted, and it was fascinating to hear his tales of gay life and the gay movement of the fifties, sixties, and seventies. And he had endless stories. I’m a pastor, and it’s my job to be a good listener, so I was pretty good at listening to Dick’s long monologues. But there were times that I would wonder if he had any interest in conversation, or in hearing some of my stories.
He was fiercely independent at retreats, in spite of being increasingly blind each year. When I would offer him my arm to guide him, he would swat me away, pointing out that he knew Camp Hess Kramer well enough to make it around without any guidance.
The last time he went to retreat, we were driving back to LA on the 101. Around Malibu Canyon Rd., my 15-year-old Toyota Celica died. Somehow I managed to pull over to the shoulder. Not only did my car stop working, but Dick stopped talking. I was stunned. He did say he was worried about getting back home in time to get to a play he had tickets for.
As we were waiting for the auto club to get there, with both of us getting more and more impatient, who should stop to see if he could help but Tim McConico. Somehow in the heavy traffic, he managed to spot us. Our gracious rescuer kindly took Dick the rest of the way home, while I continued to wait for a tow. I have to admit I was relieved that I didn’t have to listen to Dick’s monologues anymore.
Now how I wish I could hear just one more monologue from Dick. He was a true inspiration, and certainly a hero of this chorus, and of the LGBT movement. I will miss him greatly. Deep peace be yours, dear Dick.