Bill Rydwels, a founding member of TPAN, the organization that publishes POSITIVELY AWARE, passed away October 4. He was 87.

Bill was one of 16 gay men who first met in the living room of founder Chris Clason in June 1987, responding to a classified ad looking for people to share education and mutual support in the midst of the AIDS epidemic. He soon was serving on the first board of directors of the fledgling TPA Network (as TPAN was then known). Support groups met at various locations—a Chicago Park District fieldhouse, an alternative health center, the backroom of a restaurant—and Bill was a constant presence. Through his 70s, he continued to lead a twice-weekly support group called Daytimers, for those looking for company and conversation during the day. It’s a TPAN support group that continues to this day.

“Bill was one of the first people I met when I started attending TPAN support groups in 1990,” said Positively Aware Editor Jeff Berry. “Bill always had a big smile, an open heart, and a generous spirit. His strength and resilience over the years was, and will always be, an inspiration to others.”

Godspeed, Bill.