Paul Fasana, a man who helped the LGBT community thrive by keeping its
history alive, has died. He was 87.
The Stonewall National Museum & Archives, where he volunteered his time and
knowledge for more than 20 years, announced the news, saying he died about a
week after going to the hospital for an unspecified illness.
“Personally, I will miss him a great deal. He was a beloved friend and mentor,”
said Hunter O’Hanian, executive director at Stonewall. “He was a kind, smart,
charming, thoughtful, and engaging man. He loved knowledge and learning,
while preserving human history and culture.”
Fasana’s life was dedicated to the service of others and his biography at
Stonewall details a well-lived life. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean
War, then graduated from UC Berkeley; first in 1959 with a B.A. and then 1960
with a Masters of Library Science. Armed with those degrees, he began a long
career in library administration; first at the New York Public Library as a cataloguer
and later at the Columbia University Libraries as director of library automation.
Eventually he returned to the New York Public Library as senior vice president
and director of the Research Libraries until he retired in 1995.
But retirement was just the end of one chapter and the start of another for
Fasana. He joined the Stonewall Archives in Fort Lauderdale, becoming their
chief archivist. He began organizing their collection of historic documents and
media, and the task wasn’t as simple as it sounds.
At the time, the library’s holdings were spread out across three warehouses
and the Metropolitan Community Church. Now, under Fasana’s leadership, the
collection is in a climate-controlled building and well-cataloged for researchers.
Fasana’s partner in life was Robert Graham. They were together 48 years until
Robert died 11 years ago. They were a team that touched South Florida not only
by giving their time, but also through financial philanthropy.
Among their beneficiaries is the Sunshine Cathedral, where they have a chapel
named after them. In January of 2020, the Our Fund Foundation gave Fasana
the Dick Schwarz Award for Lifetime Achievement, an honor Fasana said he
wished Graham was here to share with him.
“Paul’s financial generosity matches his volunteerism, which is not an easy thing
to accomplish considering he’s one of the most ardent volunteers we have here in
South Florida,” Our Fund said then. “Paul’s generosity has affected almost every
agency in South Florida. He established the first endowed fund at Our Fund, and
since that time has created additional funds which will affect the lives of LGBTQ South Floirda in perpituity.
O’Hanian says Fasana’s legacy also lives on inside the archives.
“More than any other single individual, he is responsible for the richness of the
vast archives at Stonewall. Thousands of pages in the archive bear his carefully
hand-written notes in pencil. He cared for and nurtured the collection with
remarkable accuracy right up to [the week before he died] when he was here and
working. Future generations of scholars and researchers will owe him a debt of
gratitude for his work and attention to detail.”
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