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Robert E. Ader

Died: January 23, 1993

Robert grew up in Tulsa, OK and majored in political science at Yale, where he was a resident of Morse College. A highly intelligent, serious, and focused individual, Robert could be somewhat cynical in manner; but he readily displayed a wry sense of humor. Following his graduation from Yale in 1966, he attended Columbia Law School, graduating in 1969. Robert then joined the large New York City firm of Shearman & Sterling as an associate in the tax department, working there for several years before joining Standard Brands’ corporate law department.

Entrepreneurial in nature, Robert began investing in New York City real estate in 1970 while still practicing law. He initially purchased two dilapidated brownstones on West 95th Street in Manhattan, then renovated and sold them. He followed that pattern with multiple other NYC townhouses, mostly on the Upper West Side. In the 1970s he also opened several gay bars and Pershing’s Restaurant on Columbus Ave. He soon concluded that businesses in rental space were too subject to the ever-increasing rents in New York City, so he began buying properties first and then locating his businesses there (Crossroads at 858 9th Avenue, The Candle at 309 Amsterdam Avenue, The Tunnel at 116 First Avenue in the East Village). At his death in 1992, he had accumulated and was managing a significant portfolio of commercial and residential Manhattan real estate.

Robert loved the West Side and eventually settled into a beautiful brownstone at 21 West 70th Street with his partner, Lonnie Kennett. They lived there until the late 1980s, when they moved to a penthouse in the Parc Vendome on West 57th Street, where they remained until their deaths in 1992. Robert also adored his oceanfront home in the Pines, a predominantly gay residential community on Fire Island. He was active in the Pines community and was one of the owners of The Crew’s Quarters, a bar in the Pines.

Robert traveled extensively and especially loved Germany, where he had several close friends with whom he exchanged visits. He loved to entertain and show everyone his New York City. Robert also enjoyed reading throughout his life. He had thousands of volumes in his library and had read every one of them, on subjects ranging from Greek and Roman myths to history, art, music, travels, theater, and science. The breadth of his interests and knowledge was always impressive.

Robert’s sister Michele reports that Robert was always proud of his life and his accomplishments. When HIV/AIDS first surfaced in the 1980s, Robert used his bar locales to try to educate the community about the risks of irresponsible behavior and to lobby for increasing medical support for the victims of this terrible epidemic. He was a pillar of strength for sick employees and friends, being there in every way imaginable.

Robert died of AIDS, but maintained a positive attitude to the very end. He never allowed fear or regret into his life, and always kept doing his best for others. While a hospital patient and only a month before he died, he wore a grand feather mask on Halloween and visited everyone on the floor proclaiming, “When you have a good day, you need to share it.” Robert died on November 24, 1992, Lonnie on November 27, 1992.