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Allan H. Spear

Spear, Allan H. Of Minneapolis Born June 24, 1937, Died October 11, 2008 Of complications following heart surgery. Survived by life partner, Junjiro Tsuji; brother, Richard Spear (Athena Tacha) of Washington, DC; and many loving friends and family. Preceded in death by mother, Esther Spear, and father, Irving Spear. Spear was elected to the Minnesota Senate in 1972 and retired in 2000. He served as President of the Senate from 1993 to 2000 and was the first non-lawyer ever to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee. He received numerous awards for his work in areas such as human rights, criminal justice & corrections, and protection of vulnerable adults. Spear was an Associate Professor of History at the University of Minnesota from 1964 to 2000 and was the author of the book "Black Chicago: the Making of a Negro Ghetto," published in 1967. He held a PhD in History from Yale University. On December 9, 1974, Spear announced he was gay in an interview with the Minneapolis Star, becoming the first openly gay man serving as a state legislator in the country. He worked many years to amend Minnesota's Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and succeeded in 1993. He was a co-founder of the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Elected and Appointed Officials and a board member of OutFront Minnesota PAC. Spear was a charismatic speaker who was known both for his oratory as well as his attention to legislative details and ability to work with members of both parties, especially as Senate President. He was recently named one of the 150 Minnesotans who shaped our state by the Minnesota Historical Society as part of the Sesquicentennial Celebration. Spear was a devotee of DFL politics right up until his death and was particularly enthusiastic about the prospects of the election of Barack Obama. He was a gourmet cook and had many friends with whom he shared good food; he loved classical music and was a Board Member of the Schubert Club. He had also been a member of the Shir Tikvah Synagogue Board. Allan loved travel and treasured his trips with his life partner, Jun, and with friends to France, Italy, England, Ireland, Japan, Africa and Eastern Europe. Memorial Service to be held on Sunday, November 23, from 12:30 to 2:30PM at TEMPLE ISRAEL, 2324 Emerson Avenue South, Minneapolis (reception to follow). Memorials preferred to the Minnesota AIDS project; the Schubert Club; the Allan Spear Lectures (University of Minnesota Foundation); or the OutFront Minnesota PAC.

Published in Pioneer Press from Oct. 14 to Oct. 19, 2008
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