San Diego LGBT leader Bill Beck dies

Posted at 1:46 PM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 16:46:56-05

SAN DIEGO - Longtime San Diego gay and lesbian community leader Bill Beck died Monday of Parkinson's disease, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, announced Tuesday.

Beck, 74, died at home, surrounded by family and friends, according to Atkins, who said Beck fought for LGBT equality and raised more than $10 million for AIDS research.

"San Diego has lost a true pioneer in LGBT rights in San Diego, as well as a force of nature in politics, in business, and philanthropy," Atkins said.

"More than 20 years ago, Bill Beck had a vision for the LGBT community in San Diego to have a voice in the halls of power," Atkins said. "Thanks to Bill, LGBT San Diegans have been speaking out for our community in the Assembly and state Senate, the Board of Supervisors, the City Council, the school board, the District Attorney's Office and the court."

Atkins, who represented San Diego's LGBT neighborhood of Hillcrest as a member of the City Council, said Beck's death "leaves a huge void but an amazing legacy."

He served on numerous boards, including the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, the AIDS Assistance Fund, and the Greater San Diego Business Association. He was a co-chair of Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS and a founder and board president of the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation.

In 2010, he was honored by the Legislature in Sacramento as a California Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender hero.

San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts said Beck was "a transcendent presence" in San Diego's LGBT, civic, and business community.

"An early, strong, and steady voice for the gay community, he cared deeply about San Diego and was a trusted friend and counselor for decades," Roberts said. "This is a sad day for all of us."

Beck is survived by his husband, David Huskey. Memorial plans were pending.