Long Beach Rights Activist Rob Kramme Dies of AIDS

Times Staff Writer

A prominent gay rights activist who led the campaign for this city's anti-discrimination ordinance has died of AIDS.

Rob Kramme, 33, died in a hospice at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday, said Craig Nitz, his companion of 12 years.

From 1985 to 1987, Kramme was president of the Lambda Democratic Club, a predominantly gay political group. He is credited with helping persuade the City Council last year to adopt what many considered to be a controversial ordinance banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

'Biggest Achievement'

"He worked for four years on that anti-discrimination ordinance," Nitz said. "That was his baby . . . his biggest achievement.

"His biggest objective," Nitz continued, "was furthering human rights in the city."

Kramme was also instrumental in making Lambda more active in local elections.

Dave Newell, Lambda's current president, explained: "When he became president is when we started seriously interviewing council candidates. That's when we realized we weren't getting anywhere unless we got involved in campaigns."

Kramme was "a strong believer in coalition building," said Mina Meyer, a friend. The anti-discrimination ordinance, for example, won the support--and muscle--of more than a dozen local unions and community organizations by the time the council decided its fate.

Kramme was the immediate past chairman and a founding member of the Coalition of Long Beach Organizations.

'Will Be Missed'

"He believed in our community reaching out to other communities," said Donald Snow, a friend. "He will be missed by a lot of people."

Among his many activities, Kramme, a luggage salesman, was active in the Democratic Party. He was on the boards of The Center in Long Beach and the AIDS Hospice Foundation in Los Angeles, according to his friends. He was also a former member of the city's Cultural Heritage Commission and he was last year's "Man of the Year" winner at the annual Lambda banquet.

Only a few hours before Kramme died of acquired immune deficiency syndrome, friends and acquaintances who were gathered at Lambda's annual Human Rights banquet circulated a small book that they filled with inspirational messages for him.

"We were going to take it to him that night," Snow said, "because we sort of had the feeling that he did not have much time." But shortly after the banquet ended, Kramme died.

Kramme is survived by his mother, Anna May Kramme, and a sister, Rinda Kramme, both of Des Moines, Iowa. There will be a memorial service Oct. 23 at 3 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Rob Kramme Memorial Fund for AIDS Hospice Foundation Patient Care, 1739 E. Broadway, Apt. 17, Long Beach, Calif., 90802.

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