Green was his favorite color
David Warner: Leon was an inspiration for all of us senior runners. It was a joy to run with Leon. Even though he was always very competitive. The San Francisco running community with miss Leon dearly.”
Bob Callori: I will always remember the 2017 Christmas Relays where "Four Wisemen" (Terry Baransky, David Warner, Leon and myself) all 70+ years of age competed and finished dead last.
Terry Baransy: "I will miss Leon--a great guy and a strong runner. In addition to seeing him at FrontRunners, I saw him most Sunday mornings when I ran around Lake Merced. Fortunately for me, we were usually going the opposite way, since it wasn't as obvious how much faster than me he was. "
Richard Ervais: "I first met Leon at one of Dennis Nix's Valentine's Day for Singles dinners in the back room of The Sausage Factory. Probably was 2012. What a gentleman. And, as I learned later, what a competitor. We ran an Across the Bridge 12K together and he was fast! I hadn't seen Leon in awhile but we planned on having lunch the next time I'm in SF. I'm so sad that I won't get to have that lunch with him. Such an inspiration!"
Leon's favorite color was green. Records show that he has been a member since 2012.
Richard Rogles 5-24-87 (GG Bridge 50th Anniversary walk)
Richard was FrontRunners' 1985 Secretary, and he was very involved with the newsletter in other years. He passed away on June 12, 2019
Richard was nicknamed Crash after he was in a 1988 motorcycle accident.
He often hosted the monthly collating party when the club sent out paper newsletters where members folded printed copies for mailings.
David Johnson: "On a sunny Sunday morning in June of 1984, Richard showed up at the weekly run with his camera. He happened to snap a photo of me talking with a handsome man who had showed up to FrontRunners for the first time that day. Richard gave me the photo at the next Sunday morning run. That handsome man and I have now been together for thirty-six years. That photo commemorating the day I met my life partner is a most treasured possession, and I have always been grateful to Richard for taking it and giving it to me. Thank you again, Richard, and may you rest in peace."
Don was a FrontRunner from 2012 - 2015 and often attended the Saturday morning runs with his dog. He owned Nelson Construction. He enjoyed sailing and horseback riding.
SFFR member Marcus Valera & Don Nelson on St. Maarten Isl Obsession anchored @ St. Maarten 05-26-1992
(l.to r.) Don, Bud's partner Don Swift, Bud, Mark and Gardner
Bud (left) running in 2nd annual SF Marathon 1978
Along with Jack Baker and Gardner Pond, both of whom are now also deceased, Bud was one of the founders of the FrontRunners. Jack and Gardner had advertised the group beginning in late 1974. Bud joined in 1975, and, in his typical fashion, very quickly accepted much of the leadership responsibility. It was under Bud’s leadership that the small group which met informally on Sunday mornings was organized into a club and named the FrontRunners in 1978. It was he who led all of the runs in the early years and also led all of the meetings which led to the formation of an organized group. He was still a leader in 1983 when the club was officially incorporated.
Bud and his partner Don supported all of the runners who showed up on Sunday mornings. Many who showed up in those very early days were early in their process of coming out, and Bud was a friend to them all.
In recent years, Bud and Don had been living in an assisted living facility near Don’s family in State College, Pennsylvania. Don preceded Bud in death on October 17, 2018. They had been together for more than forty years.
Bud was always reluctant to take credit for his very central role in the development of the group, but it is fair to say that without his strong and sustained leadership, the remarkable story that is today the International FrontRunners, which has brought friendship and health and encouragement (and more than a few marriages) to many thousands of GLBT people would never have happened. We should all be grateful for his contribution.
Bud had many accomplishments in his life and was an active participant in the early years of the gay liberation movement in San Francisco. But his contribution to the FrontRunners was one of the things of which he was quietly most proud. Bud will be remembered by some as the author of the official “History of the FrontRunners” which gives an account of the early years of the organization. He was 82 years old.
Bud (left) and Bud with partner Don SF Marathon 1978
Gardner Pond (died 8 April 2019)
Dennis Nix (died 22 Nov 2015)
Dennis was a resident of San Francisco for over 40 years and was an active member of San Francisco Front Runners for over 15 years. He was a very generous supporter of Front Runners, including his sponsorship for many years of our annual Pride Run and participation on the Pride Run Committee. He was hit while driving his scooter. Click this Memorial Video Link to see how Dennis shared his life with us.
Erling Eia (died Nov 2014)
Erling Eia was our 22nd president. Erling had a vision of making SFFR a real running club. He was very healthy, full of life, and was a fan of showing off his 6 pack abs. He was from South Africa. His 1st President's Column in 2001 ended with a parting greeting...HAMBA KAHLE, which means "go well" in Zulu. He passed away from organ failure.
Kim George (died Nov 2014)
Will Korthof (died Oct 2014)
On October 2, 2014 William was tragically and instantly killed as a passenger on a motorcycle during a fatal collision with a car. He was 36. To name a few of Will's passions, interests and missions: marathon runner (nearly 40), committed environmentalist, vegan, scholar, licensed solar contractor and champion, hands-on technician, electric vehicle charging infra-structure installer, sustainable landscaper, energy efficient expert and business owner and electronic transportation advocate. He divided his time between Pomona and San Francisco.
Tom Pait (died Jan 2014)
He passed away at the young age of 89. Tom was one of the original San Francisco Front Runners when the club adopted the official name in 1979. He was an avid marathon runner, over 60 marathons and winning several medals. He was awarded the Apex Award in 1990 for his achievements. He participated in the first four Gay Games - two in San Francisco in 1982 and 1986, one in Vancouver in 1990 and one in New York in 1994. He brought home a silver medal in the marathon in his age group from these competitions. Tom ran well into his 80s but eventually stopped running due to blindness.
Paul E. Williams (died Jan 2014)
Two of Paul’s biggest contributions to the club were as a party host and a trained pastry chef and cook. He opened up his comfortable home for FrontRunners events, and many of us have happy memories of Halloween parties, movie nights, and other celebrations there. Paul even took the lead on cooking for our end-of-the-year banquet some years back! He was honored with a Paul E Williams Day proclamation on Nov 6, 2010.
Brian Friedman (died 19 Jul 2010)
Long time FrontRunner Dr. Brian Friedman collapsed and died while jogging in Palm Springs. Brian was an ER physician at Davies Medical Center in the Castro since 1987. A member of FrontRunners since the 1980's, Brian used to host the yearly membership meetings as his home and let us store all the Pride Run gear in his basement. After his residency, he moved to SF with his then wife Eugenie Baranoff. He concurrently conducted a private family practice along with "moonlighting" at Davies E.R.
Rod Billings (died 2010)
Shadrach Wingate (died 2007)
Rick Gigli (died 19 Apr 2006)
At age 37 Rick died at his home in San Francisco after a long battle with lymphoma cancer. He was a graduate of Don Bosco Tech in Patterson and later attended Montclair University. He was President & CEO of RG Home Collections, Inc, in SF. A memorial service was conducted at Mission Dolores in SF and a mass at St.Bonaventure in Paterson, New Jersey. We will remember his very creative hat worn at the Easter Bonnet contest.
Doug Farson (died 2002)
Doug 'Farson died on August 25th of bronchial pneumonia. The history of FrontRunners is intertwined with Doug. Doug was there since the early days of FrontRunners. He was an officer of the club in the '80s. He made balloon arches for many Pride Runs. He barbequed at the picnic in the park after many Bay to Breakers. Doug was a one-man FrontRunner welcoming cornmittee. He had a way about him of putting awkward shy people at ease. Doug loved to camp, and camp it up. I remember one FrontRurmers/Gay Sierrans trip to Tuolumne Meadows in the early '90s. Part of the tradition was to hold a talent show called the Follies. Doug choreographed about 10 of us doing a dance number to Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots are Made for Walking". We fashioned tent flies and tarps into gowns and mini skirts and topped it off with towel tulbans. We didn't walk, we strutted!
After along and active struggle with AIDS, Bruce left his place of existence early in the morning of Aug 26. Bruce left a legacy of love, companionship and fun to those of us who knew him. Memorial services and a scattering of ashes occurred on Sept 16 at the home of beloved friends in the Sierra Foothills. Bruce was a FrontRunner.
James Rodney "Rod" Doby (died 4 Jun 1994)
Rod was born March 23, 1950 in Conway, South Carolina. He graduated from Lee College; Cleveland, Tennessee in the class of 1975 with a Bachelor of Science degree. Rod was always into music. During his college years he performed in a group called "The Music Men" which traveled widely in the interest of the college. Later he performed with the "Lee Singers". This group worked often with the Chattanooga (Tennessee) Symphony as well as performing across England and Europe where their musical talents were received with enthusiasm and with invitations to return again and again.
After his graduation from Lee College, Rod worked as a Director of Christian Education while also teaching in a Christian School at Gentilly Church of God in New Orleans, Louisiana. Later he was involved extensively in banking and fmancial investments before going to California where he was employed by Pacific Bell Telephone Company.
Rod passed away June 4, 1994 while on a visit with his family in Tampa, Florida. He was dearly loved by his family who were at his bedside during his last hours. Rod was buried in the Doby family plot in Sunset Memory Gardens, Tampa, Florida on June 7,1994 at 2 p.m.. He is survived by his parents, Reverend & Mrs. J. Robert Doby, a brother, Robert Gary of Toms River, NJ, and a sister, Janice Kay of West Palm Beach, FL.
George Fisher (died 10 Jan 1991)
In 1978, George reorganized the club into FrontRunners. His clarity helped the club to focus it's purpose as a "Running Club". He served as VP in 1980 and was the delegate to AAU. George loved running, he loved to travel, he loved adventure, he was a kind spirit, loved and respected by family, friends, and business associates.The club's 1st SF Marathon water station was in 1980. George coordinated the 14 water stations and was responsible for recruiting 700 volunteers.
He was a hairdresser and had his own salon on Union St when he was 25. He became a nationally-recognized expert in hair coloring and was a national spokesperson for Clairol. George died in a fire in Paris.
On October 26, 1990 Peter Middendorf passed away, three weeks shy of his 46th birthday, after a long illness with AIDS. Peter was a past present of FrontRunners, having succeeded Doug Drommond in early 1982 upon Doug's resignation from office. Peter is the third past president, not to mention many former members, who have died of AIDS over the years. During Peter's tenure, membership in the club reached the 300 mark for the secnd year in a row and FrontRunners organized gay Games I's first marathon. Although inactive with the club these past few years, Peter will be remembered fondly by many current and pat members who know him.
Jack Baker (12 Jan 1990)
Don Crawford (died Sep 1989)
Don was an active member of FrontRunners for serveral years. In 1985 he organized the first Heal AIDS With Love centipede to run in the Bay to Breakers race. That first year it was called Help Stop AIDS and he barely gathered the 13 runners necessary to officially form a centipede. Don and a small group of friends ran that years Bay to Breakers with the names of friends and lovers who had died of AIDS written on a piece of paper that they pinned down to their shirts. In 1987, he organized a Heal AIDS with Love centipede that consisted of approximately 30 FrontRunners and fiends. That was the first (and last) full sized centipede he was able to organize.
Pete Harring (died 1988)
Peter was an active member of FrontRunners for three years, participating in many local and national running events as well as giving support to all other S.F. FrontRunners who ran alongside him. He was also a volunteer at S.F. General Hospital on Ward 5A. Peter's love, support, dry but witty humor, shy but beautiful smile, sweaty hugs and his dedication to running and bicycling will be missed. He passed away on July 19, 1988.
Marvin Lewis Shipley (died 25 Mar 1984)
Marvin Shipley was Front Runner's inaugural secretary. He died in San Francisco on March 25, 1984. Dearest son of Mrs. Carmelita Shipley and the late Robert G. Shipley. Dearest brother of Robert G. Shipley Jr., Lillian Rowe, and Elaine Fredianelli. Dearest grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Shipley of Arizona. A graduate of Bellermine University of Santa Clara and received his master degree at Golden Gate University of San Francisco. A native of San Jose, CA. Age 31. Cremation by the Neptune Society.
Gary May was president in 1979. He lost his life after a six week struggle with an AIDS related illness. Originally a member of Lavender U Joggers, Gay was on of the moving forces in the emergence of FrontRunners. Our Club name was chosen in his home in 1978. His energy, spirit, and dedication will live long in our memories.
If you have any updates, more complete information, photos or news of other Front Runners who have passed please email <email@example.com> so that we may display them on the site.