First Gay US Ambassador James Hormel Dies At 88

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

James Hormel, a San Franciscan who became the nation’s first gay ambassador and later a prolific philanthropist, died Friday. Hormel, who was 88, was appointed as the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg in 1997 by then-President Bill Clinton. He was the first openly gay person to be nominated to an ambassadorship, and faced down a nationwide conservative campaign to block his confirmation.

Hormel, an heir to Hormel Foods, later became a philanthropist, helping fund the James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center at the San Francisco Public Library, the AIDS Memorial Grove and the Human Rights campaign. “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Ambassador Jim Hormel,” Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement published in the Bay Area Reporter, the first to report Hormel’s death.

From Sen. Dianne Feinstein:

San Francisco lost a great friend today. A philanthropist, civil rights pioneer and loving spouse and father, James Hormel lived an extraordinary life and will be deeply missed by many. I had the pleasure of working closely with him on several issues, most notably on the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco. I will miss his kind heart and generous spirit. It’s those qualities that made him such an inspirational figure and beloved part of our city.

From House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

It is with the deepest sadness and the greatest appreciation for his unsurpassed contributions to our country and society that I learned of the passing of Ambassador Hormel. We will dearly miss him in San Francisco, in our nation and around the world. When the AIDS epidemic descended upon San Francisco, he called on our conscience and rallied the city to help our neighbors suffering from the ferocious disease. His work served as a model for national policy to defeat HIV/AIDS and improve the lives of all affected.