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Wayne April - Member Connections

By Karen Bagnard
Posted: 01/06/2021
Tags: bios

- Karen Bagnard -


Wayne April was a volunteer with the Pasadena Village long before he became a member. His background in social work and hospice care have made him an invaluable component to our vibrant village. His journey from New Hampshire roots to Alaskan adventures to being an AIDS activist in the 80’s and eventually a partnership that brought him to Pasadena has resulted in a compassionate, bright and fun-loving member of our community.


Wayne was a quiet young man until he found his voice and became active in the gay rights movement during his college years at the University of New Hampshire. Seeing that, among the many clubs on campus, there was not a club for gays or lesbians, Wayne started one. “It’s a bit like starting a Village. We needed a community for us.” When the University sued to ban the group from campus, the ACLU took up the defense, and the court ruled in favor of the gay clubs. This was the first time, in 1974, that the courts declared that any school accepting federal funds must allow gays and lesbians to organize on campus. Wayne’s activism brought him into the spotlight of local and national news, putting pressure on him to come out to his family. The result was affirming and he continued to be a strong and vocal participant in justice.


After college he moved to Valdez, Alaska where he worked as a writer and then as the publisher of the local newspaper. He enjoyed the wild and beautiful country, made friends, and once again created a welcoming community by starting a gay organization in Anchorage. 


Wayne’s five years in Alaska were followed by AIDS activism in San Francisco during the 1980’s. It was the beginning of the AIDS epidemic and there was much fear and prejudice associated with the disease. Wayne began volunteering in the AIDS ward at San Francisco Hospital. Soon he was helping to raise money to purchase and renovate an old house to accommodate 10 people living, and dying, with AIDS. His efforts resulted in the establishment of the Richard Cohen Residence for AIDS patients, formerly Hope House, which is still in operation today. This experience taught him that he had a gift for helping people with end-of-life matters and was the impetus he needed to return to school to become a credentialed social worker.


Wayne went to work for Kaiser Permanente as a geriatric Social Worker, eventually transferring to Southern California with his partner, Jeff Gufstadt. Says Wayne, “I always enjoyed working with older people. People become more honest with age. When you slow down you feel things you didn’t before.” Wayne and Jeff settled in Pasadena where they live with an assortment of rescue dogs, many at the end of their lives.


Wayne’s background and his wisdom about patient care have been important assets to our Support Assessment Team. His love of hiking and dry sense of humor make him most enjoyable company, as well. We're fortunate that his long and winding road has led him to the Pasadena Village.


Wayne's video in Member Connections can be seen at here.


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