History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - People - Bios

"Ross and Erv"-
Ross Walker and
Erv Uecker


Ross 1938, Erv 1932
Primary Involvements:

Community Activists




  (summarized from "Our Village Elders" article, Wisconsin Light, volume 12 issue 14, March 12, 1999; written by Bill Meunier)

Ross Walker and Erv Uecker met in June, 1957 through a mutual friend. It wasn't love at first sight. "We were friends at first sight," said Erv. They say "we are still friends" 42 years later.

Perhaps that's the key to a relationship which has taken them from a Lutheran parsonage in Chicago to a horse breeding farm and finally to Milwaukee, where they are instrumental in keeping the BESDT Clinic operating.

Erv said he is a "recovering Lutheran." He was ordained as a Lutheran Minister in 1968. For ten years, he was the Pastor at Chicago's St. Lukes' Lutheran Church where he directed a staff of four associate pastors.

Although the church was in a middle class, blue-collar neighborhood, the couple lived together in the parsonage. "Everybody did what they had to do to deal with it," said Erv. Ross addded, "Some people thought we were brothers until both our mothers showed up at church one day." Meanwhile, Ross was a special education teacher in the Chicago School System.

The two also bought a horse-breeding farm in Oxford, Wisconsin. They bred horses there for about 12 years before selling it. But it was not their idea of retirement: "Who wants to shovel horse dung all day?", asks Ross.

In 1983, the couple stopped in Milwaukee on their way to sell a property. "We were going to retire at Marco Island in Florida," said Ross. But "we met some friends in Milwaukee. We decided we didn't need Florida."

That fateful decision was Milwaukee's gain. Ross and Erv got very involved in the BESTD Clinic. They work full time- without pay- for the Clinic. Erv said he likes the structure of BESTD. "Everybody works. Our Board consists of active volunteers."

Ross and Erv were also instrumental in the founding of its new Milwaukee LGBT Community Center. In addition to activism and personal time involvement, they provided the initial money by making a long-term pledge of money toward rent and operating costs of a true community center.

UPDATE: as of May 2005, Erv and Ross continue to be actively involved in the BESTD Clinic. (The BESTD Clinic is still totally volunteer, with no paid staff.) They are also consistently accounted for in numerous other community events and fundraisers.

By the initiative of Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson and Supervisor Peter Burgelis, some forty individuals and organizations were recognized by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors and presented citations in a special meeting on June 22, 2023. "Today, we recommit Milwaukee County to supporting and uplifting the LGBTQ+ community, celebrating those who make a substantial positive impact on the LGBTQ+ community in Milwaukee County," Supervisor Burgelis stated. "Today we are making up for lost time. We have dozens of people to recognize, not because so much has been done in the past year, but because decades and even years ago, there was little to no recognition of the LGBTQ+ community. I am thankful to work with a Chairperson who enables our County Board to honor these well-deserving individuals."

Recognitions were made in the categories of "Community Leaders and Activists," "Government Leaders," "Business and Cultural Leaders," and "Health and Wellness Leaders". Ross and Erv's citation (in which they are largely self-described) read as follows:

  • WHEREAS, Ery Uecker and Ross Walker have shared a remarkable journey together for an impressive 66 years, having called Milwaukee County their home since 1981, and having contributed to the Brady East STD Clinic (BESTD) since 1985, highlighting their commitment to community health; and
  • WHEREAS, Ery Uecker and Ross Walker made significant contributions to the establishment and funding of the LGBT Community Center along with numerous generous donations to organizations and activities that support ensuring fair treatment, quality medical care, and social protection of all persons regardless of identity or sexual orientation; and
  • WHEREAS, Ery Uecker and Ross Walker collaborated with the State of Wisconsin to empower HIV agencies through training seminars, served with dedication on the Board of Directors of BESTD during the transition to the newly-established AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, advancing the cause of HIV awareness and prevention; and
  • WHEREAS, Ery Uecker and Ross Walker conducted HIV testing sites at various gay bars in Milwaukee County and beyond, demonstrating their dedication to promoting health and well-being and leaving a lasting legacy in the community; and
  • WHEREAS, Ery Uecker and Ross Walker have demonstrated courage as the first openly-gay married couple residing together at Alexian Village of Milwaukee, and providing leadership on the Alexian Resident Council, ultimately helping to set a continuous standard of fair treatment for all; and
  • WHEREAS, Ery Uecker and Ross Walker's enduring love, advocacy, and community involvement serve as an inspirational example for future generations; now, therefore
  • BE IT RESOLVED, the members of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, on the motion of Supervisors Deanna Alexander and Peter Burgelis, along with Supervisors Ryan Clancy, Caroline Gomez-Tom, Willie Johnson, Jr., Felesia A. Martin, Juan Miguel Martinez, Shawn Rolland, Steven Shea, Anthony Staskunas, Liz Sumner, Sequanna Taylor, Kathleen Vincent, Sheldon A. Wasserman, and Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson do hereby commend Ery Uecker and Ross Walker for their dedicated efforts and contributions to the community, and wish them prosperity, happiness, and continued success in all their personal and professional endeavors.


Elders article,
in Wisconsin Light, vol.12 no.14

2023 County Citation

Credits: bulk of information from Wisconsin Light, v12-14;
Last updated: June-2024.

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