Death in the Family

Activist Richard Rausch dies at 71

Richard Rausch will be noticeably missing at this year’s Capital Pride festival. In previous years, Rausch, a founding member of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club and former executive director of the national Young Democrats organization, could be found at the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club’s booth, says his longtime friend Andy Litsky.

”That’s where you knew you could find Richard,” says Litsky. ”He was always carrying a petition for somebody who might be running and needed signatures, he was always carrying literature for somebody who was running and needed literature distributed.”

On May 29, Rausch, who had battled liver cancer and undergone hip surgery last fall, died from complications from pneumonia and infections after surgery at the Virginia Hospital Center. He was 71.

”I think all of Richard’s friends will be thinking about Richard’s accomplishments during Pride,” Litsky adds. ”His friendships spanned race, gender, age, and many people felt very drawn to Richard in all areas of the city; straight and gay. ”

An Iowa native, Rausch came to Washington in the late ’50s to work for Iowa Rep. Neal Smith (D), before working for Rep. Phil Burton (D) and later as a doorkeeper under four speakers of the House. He was retired at the time of his death.

A Mass and memorial service is scheduled for noon on Saturday, June 9, at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 313 Second St. SE.