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Bob Hegyi

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Bob Hegyi Obituary
Hegyi, Bob
He was the "gay Mayor of Phoenix"; the "Godfather of gay Phoenix"; a pioneer in the fight against HIV/AIDS; a community pillar whose lifelong drive to help others brought him awards and honors over the last 30 years-Bob Hegyi was a man unafraid to stand up for justice, even if he were the only one standing. Bob Hegyi died suddenly on April 7. If Bob were writing this obituary, he'd probably say the proudest moments in his 75 years were his Hungarian heritage; creating Phoenix' first Gay Community Switchboard out of his R. Hegyi card and novelty shop in the 1980s; helping establish the Arizona Stop AIDS Project; working the front desk and becoming the "face" of the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS for 20 years; being honored with the Martin Luther King Living the Dream Award by the City of Phoenix in 1999; being named Humanitarian of the Year by the Arizona Aids Fund Trust-a group he helped create-not once, but for 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1986; being named one of the nation's most influential gay rights leaders by The Advocate in 1984; receiving the first Larry Smith Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in 1997; being given Body Positive's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006; legally marrying his partner of 40 years, Mel Reese, on October 3, 2008 in California; and adopting his son, Chris. He'd even own up to his "Clara Clutter" nickname for his insatiable appetite for collecting-everything! Bob Hegyi not only bejeweled his own life, but all those around him. Most of all, he would have been proud that his husband's first words of tribute were these: "He had a complete, unselfish desire to help others." Bob is also survived by his brother and sister-in-law, Richard and Carol in Ohio and several nieces and nephews. A Celebration of Bob Hegyi's Life is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. May 2 at the Phoenix Art Museum. In lieu of flowers, contributions are being accepted to the Robert C. Hegyi Scholarship Fund for LGBT Youth at the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation, 2419 W. 14th St., Tempe, AZ. 85281, or the We Are Here Fund for Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS, 1144 E. McDowell, #200, Phoenix, AZ. 85006.

Published in The Arizona Republic on Apr. 14, 2013
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