Chuck Hyde to be remembered with memorial ceremonies in Chicago and Fort Lauderdale

Thu. April 13, 2017 8:10 AM by Ross Forman

chuck hyde, may 2008

photo credit // jay shaff

Former Sidetrack manager Chuck Hyde remembered as a ‘real icon’ in the communities he served

The legacy of Chuck Hyde will be remembered in South Florida and Chicago in mid-May, when two separate ceremonies will be held to honor the former longtime manager of Sidetrack in Boystown who had been living and working in Fort Lauderdale.

Hyde passed away April 6 in Florida from complications following open-heart surgery. He was 55.

"You can't mention gay Chicago without mentioning Chuck," Hunter, co-owner of Hunters Nightclub in Fort Lauderdale (and formerly the Hunter's in suburban Chicago, too), told the South Florida Gay News. "He was a fixture in the community. A real icon.

"We're all in shock."

Hyde started working at Sidetrack in July 1982 – just three months after the bar opened. He was at one point a co-owner and was the longtime Sidetrack general manager.

Hyde was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, now known as the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame, in 2001.

Hyde, who had been working at the Hunters Nightclub Fort Lauderdale, was married three years ago to Randy D'Agostino, who he had met in 1993.

"Chuck was power with grace tempered by humanity," Hunter told SFGN. "He had a great sense of humor, was funny and handsome. He was one of those rare people who seemed to have it all."

Hyde was born Sept. 12, 1961 in Gloucester, Mass., and attended Valparaiso University.

"A great memory we had (after his passing) was of Chuck dancing, on a Sunday night during disco night, disco ball spinning, carefree, smiling, having the best night. He was a great multi-tasker, and business-driven, but to see him let all that go for a night, was just awesome," said Sidetrack bartender Lee Trudell.

Sidetrack general manager Brad Balof noted that Hyde was his manager and mentor for his first 12 years working at Sidetrack. "His energetic personality and positive attitude made him a champion of everything Sidetrack—parade floats, drag spectaculars, special events, and all the expansions of the business during his tenure," Balof told "Chuck did so much to help so many organizations, such as Chicago Gay Men's Chorus, Affinity Community Services, About Face Theater, Lambda Legal, and countless sports teams, arranging donations and organizing special events."

Balof said the strongest relationship that Hyde helped Sidetrack cultivate, along with co-owners Art Johnston and Pepe Pena, was with Equality Illinois

"Over 30 years, the events and donations he orchestrated for EI helped the organization work toward the Human Rights Ordinance for the State of Illinois, and later civil unions and marriage equality for the state," Balof said. "I believe that Illinois remains a vital civil rights state due to the work of Equality Illinois, and Chuck Hyde had a very large role in this. He often did this work silently and did not want recognition for this work."

Balof added, "For so many of the employees he hired, trained and mentored, he will always hold a special place in our hearts. For the organizations he helped create events (with and for), receive donations (from) and raise vital funds (for), he will remain a part of their longevity. For the friends that he shared a laugh and a drink with, he will remain in our fondest memories of Sidetrack."

- Hunter's Fort Lauderdale will be having a service to honor Hyde on Sunday, May 14, from 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.

- A memorial service to honor Hyde is set for Sunday, May 21, starting at 1 p.m., at the Center on Halsted, followed by a Celebration of Life reception at Sidetrack until 5 p.m.