Condolence & Memory Journal

I met Sheldon "Shelly" Herman Ramsdell and his closest friend and political activist John Belskus in early 1989 when they came together and visited me at my apartment in San Francisco during a hunger strike I was on for state and federal laws protecting gays and those with HIV from discrimination. I moved back to Salt Lake City after my hunger strike in July 1989. John Belskus died the following year in 1990, but I remained friends with Sheldon until he died and visited him several times on trips to San Francisco, including one where he was in the hospital. I gave him a "Popeye" doll I bought at the hospital gift shop because it reminded me of him, even looked like him, and it was our personal joke that I would call him "Popeye" afterward. He was a great & valiant person, but much of what he did was unknown to me until after he died. This included the extent of his involvement in the VVAW; he co-founded that organization and worked closely with, among others, now US State Department Secretary and former US Senator John Kerry. I know he was photographer in the Vietnam War before co-founding VVAW, I assume with the US Army. And his later activism for gay people and those with HIV & AIDS, even when diagnosed with AIDS himself, was awe inspiring.

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Posted by Stuart McDonald - Salt Lake City, UT - Friend   March 25, 2014