Raised money to keep HIV/AIDS orgs open during ‘the dark days’

Reed Hunsdorfer

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

UPDATE: Trooper Clyde Stephens said this morning that no alcohol was involved in the accident but that the investigation is ongoing. — March 9 at 11:30 a.m.

Former Resource Center Dallas employee Reed Hunsdorfer, 62, was killed in a car accident in East Texas on March 3.

The accident occurred on U.S. 79, about 7 miles southwest of Henderson. A driver rear-ended an SUV and then swerved into oncoming traffic, hitting the car Hunsdorfer was driving. He died at the scene. The police report said he was not wearing a seat belt. No other serious injuries were reported.

The Texas Department of Public Safety officer who filed the accident report hadn’t returned a call by press time to confirm whether alcohol was involved or if charges would be brought against the 18-year-old driver who hit Hunsdorfer. However, the case is still open.

Hunsdorfer became development manager at the AIDS Resource Center soon after the organization moved into the former MCC Church building on Reagan Street in 1990, according to Craig Hess. He worked there until about 1994.

“That was during the dark days,” said Don Maison, president and CEO of AIDS Services Dallas.

He said that at that time, before Ryan White and HOPWA funding, an AIDS agency didn’t know from day to day if it could keep the doors open or how to pay the light bill. At the Resource Center, while

Executive Director John Thomas expanded programs and hired employees to serve the growing needs of the community, he relied on Hunsdorfer to raise that money to pay the bills.

William Waybourn, a founder of the Resource Center, said that at the time employees were hired from among the volunteers. He said Hunsdorfer was hired to manage the events that funded the operation — drag shows, canteens, the Court, the theater group.

“He’d coordinate and make sure everything was as agreed,” Waybourn said. “He was a super-sweet guy.”

He said that whenever anyone asked Hunsdorfer to do anything, he never questioned a motive and only asked how fast it needed to be done.

“He was so good at what he did,” Waybourn said. “He was unassuming and an incredible volunteer.”

Maison said Hunsdorfer was always upbeat.

“His mood was contagious,” Maison said. “He lit up a room.”

RECOGNIZED | Hunsdorfer accepts the Kuchling Award at Black Tie in 1992. (Dallas Voice file photo)

Hunsdorfer was an early board member of Razzle Dazzle Dallas along with Maison.

“He turned his house in Pleasant Grove into a workshop for decorations,” Maison said.

He recalled working with Hunsdorfer installing electricity and repairing the roof at the old auto pound on Inwood Road to prepare for one of the early Razzle parties that were often held in odd locations and featured massive decorations.

“I thought I was going to die of heat stroke,” Maison said. “He was a hard-working son of a bitch.”

For his hard work and tireless fundraising efforts, Black Tie Dinner honored Hunsdorfer with a Kuchling Award in 1992.

At the time of his death, Hunsdorfer lived in Shake Rag, an unincorporated community in East Texas southwest of Henderson. He and his partner of 15 years, Gary Simmons, moved there in 2005 and bought Cold Creek Farm, where they raised goats and made cheese, soap and lotions from the milk.

He was also assistant manager at Tractor Supply Co. in Henderson.

After moving to East Texas in 2005, Hunsdorfer served as executive director of AIDS Services Tyler for a year and a half, according to Mark Morrison, who stayed with Hundorfer and Simmons for six months when he needed a place to live.

“Reed insisted I stay with them,” Morrison said. “He was terribly generous.”

Former Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance President Deb Elder said: “Reed was a true leader with his compassion and loving spirit. He will be greatly missed.”

Hundorfer was raised on Staten Island in New York City and graduated from the University of Denver.

The funeral was on Thursday, March 8, in Henderson. In addition to Simmons, he is survived by his sister, Carol Royce of Norwalk, Conn.; brother and sister-in-law, Lloyd and Joyce Hunsdorfer of

Staten Island, N.Y.; five nieces and nephews; and 11 great-nieces and nephews.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 9, 2012.