Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin released the following statement after the passing of R. Richard Wagner, a scholar and activist who was the first openly gay member of the Dane County Board of Supervisors, where he served for fourteen years. In 1983, he was appointed by Governor Tony Earl to co-chair the Governor’s Council on Lesbian and Gay Issues, the first in the nation. He is the author of two groundbreaking volumes on gay history in Wisconsin – We’ve Been Here All Along: Wisconsin’s Early Gay History and Coming Out, Moving Forward: Wisconsin’s Recent Gay History. Wagner served on the Wisconsin Arts Board, the Madison Landmarks Commission, the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation, and the board of Fair Wisconsin.
“Dick Wagner was a deeply inspiring person in my life as a role model, mentor and lifelong friend. I may not have ever entered public service if not for the guidance and encouragement he provided me to walk the path he paved. He provided the opportunity for young people like myself and others growing up all over Wisconsin to know that they are not alone and that they stand on the shoulders of people who came before them. Dick lived a life that showed to all of us that history only moves in one direction: Forward. For that, I am forever grateful.”