I just learned of the passing of Dick Wagner, a trailblazer, a history-maker, and a leader in our LGBTQ+ community and across Wisconsin. Like so many others, I am reeling at this tremendous loss.

I got to know Dick after I was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly. I can still remember approaching him to introduce myself. He said, “Oh, I know exactly who you are; so very nice to meet you, JoCasta. I have been watching you.” It was so very flattering and exciting that this history-maker in his own right would know exactly who I was.

We would see each other often over the years. The last time I saw him was late 2019, when he came to an event to support my candidacy for alderwoman in Milwaukee. He gave me one of his books on LGBTQ+ history that evening (I’ll likely be spending tonight looking for that gift from my friend, Dick).

How lucky was I to have known this man, the first out, openly gay person to be elected to the Dane County Board of Supervisors. He tirelessly lifted up other up-and-coming LGBTQ+ candidates. So many of us stand on his shoulders.

My thoughts and sympathies are with Dick’s family, friends, and his beloved Madison community. Thank you so much, Dick. Your leadership will never be forgotten, my friend.

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