Friends’ Sad Farewell to Gary Desmond

Ten days ago our friend, Gary Desmond, passed away at just 44 years old. Gary was one of the good ones, and his passing has left us in complete shock. Of all the emotions we’ve felt these past 10 days, gratitude has risen to the top. We want to thank you, Gary.  

Gary Desmond.

Thank you for opening the doors to your home. 

Few opened the doors to a home like you and Armando. Your home was amazing. With Armando’s art and your eye for detail, your house was a masterpiece. 

Amazing birdcages, a glass see-through floor in the kitchen looking down on your wine cellar; your collection of miniature circus carousels, the life-sized Dalmatian statue guarding your fireplace. You two created something that was so unique and so magnificent that I know I’ll never see the likes of it again.

That you’d open that magical place up to your friends was special.

As we got to know you and Armando we realized that all the art and style and beauty of the home was just simply a by-product of your and Armando’s life and vision and commitment. Knowing you like we did made the art even more valuable to us, and we are proud to say we have a few pieces of Armando’s work hanging in our home. Not a day has gone by that we don’t look at the pieces and think of you two.

Thank you, Gary, for opening your wallet and schedule.

For as long as we’ve known you and Armando, you’ve held an open house for a local charity and would create a special event for their benefit. You picked good charities. Your efforts always benefited actors or artists, animals or nature. 

You duplicated the parties you held for your friends and recreated them for complete strangers. Armando would create some new art for the event while you created the signature cocktail for the party.

We met you and Armando at one of these events and as we continued to come to them over the years. We’d watch people come through your doors for the very first time, just as we had.

We relived our first time to your house through the the guests who came to your event. We could see the wonderment in their eyes and knew exactly how they felt meeting you.

We once asked you how the charities, after expenses, made any money from the events you hosted. You told me that you and Armando covered all the expenses and donated all of your time so the charity could keep every dime they earned through ticket sales and raffles.

That was a very classy moment for you and Armando, and a very classy thing to do. 

Thank you, Gary, for being married.

You and Armando were a perfect couple. You two inspired so many of us, and I know of several couples that after meeting you who said, “I want that.”

We don’t believe you set out to be an example to anyone, but the way you lived and loved and created and engaged, it was hard not to notice what you two had.

It was always “Gary and Armando” or “The Boys” – and you were both part of a much bigger thing.

You and Armando were a force of nature, and created so much together. 

Thank you for staying in a city you loved.

You and Armando could have lived anywhere you wanted and you would have thrived. You picked Redding, and Redding is a better place because of you.

Thank you for never discussing politics.

When we first met you, whatever struggles you’d gone through to reach your place in life, were all in the past.

Your concerns were your family and your friends. Your concerns were wine and the charities and your movie room. Your concerns were your koi fish and your dinner clubs, and so many other great things.

Yet, by so fearlessly going about your life in such a normal and healthy way, you showed your friends, your neighbors, your families and your community what equality in marriage could look like.

Thank you, Gary, for noticing.

Every time something good came our way we’d get a card or a phone call from you and Armando.

If we were involved in something that was important to us, you bought tickets and showed up. You had a knack of knowing when things were very bad in our lives because you’d call and tell us you loved us and “The Boys” are here for us.

This is just one of the parts of you for which we are so grateful, and what we will so dearly miss.

Thank you for never wearing the same hat twice.

We have looked through hundreds of pictures this month and noticed what a great dresser you are. We’re not talking about the over-the-top party costumes you created, fantastic as they were.  

We are talking about the day-to-day way you presented yourself. You always looked great, and we know that was important to you. How the world saw you meant something. 

It was the reason why you didn’t want us to come to the hospital. Had you asked for us, you know you would have had 500 people in your room in less than an hour. Everyone would have come.  

We know that the sicker you got the less of an option that became.

Your last gift to us was to make sure our memories of you did not include a sick Gary. 

Our only memories of you will always be of a healthy and strong, engaged and happy, witty and charming Gary. It’s a great way of remembering you, and you will be remembered for a very long time.

Thank you, Gary, for letting us into your better place.

We have heard and repeated a phrase a couple of times this week. We’ve also thought about this phrase for hours as we processed your passing.

“He’s in a better place.”

We say it when we don’t know what else to say, and we cling to it when we still can’t make sense out of this senseless week.

As we ponder that phrase and think of you, Gary, we cant help but think how wrong the phrase is.

We believe you are in a great place, but we don’t believe it is your better place.

Your better place will always have been here with Armando, here with your family and here your friends and here in your home.

Your better place is here with us. You’d filled our hearts ages ago, Gary, and we don’t believe our hearts will ever allow us to properly or completely say goodbye to you. 

Thank you, Gary.

Lisa and James Fossen, 







Note: Gary Desmond died at 44 years old of a recently diagnosed aggressive form of cancer.  A fund has been set up in his name to help complete the charity work started by Gary and his life partner, Armando Mejorado (a prolific photo deputy on A News’s Photo Cafe). The fund is called the “Gary Richard Desmond Crystal Orchid Foundation” – a reminder of how fragile life is and all the beauty the world has to offer. Contributions may be deposited at Wells Fargo Bank in Gary’s name at account # 7853869316, or electronically to account # 511406504. 

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15 Responses

  1. Thank you, Lisa and James, for expressing what so many of us feel about Gary’s death.

    He was a bright, uplifting force in so many people’s lives. He is already greatly missed, but will never be forgotten.

    Heartfelt condolences to his husband and life partner Armando, as well as Gary’s family and friends.

    Rest in peace, Gary.

  2. Thank you Lisa and James for this beautiful tribute to a beautiful human being! He will be forever missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Armando and Gary’s family and many, many friends!

  3. Avatar Sandi Thompson says:

    Beautifully written about a generous, loving, kind and wonderful friend. I am a better person for having known and loved and been loved by Gary. He and Armando will forever be my “Boys”. Let’s keep Armando close and in our thoughts as he goes through this difficult time.

  4. Avatar Michelle Nicol says:

    You completely nailed it. Gary will be missed very much but his legacy will live on forever. He will always be in our hearts

  5. AJacoby AJacoby says:

    What a beautiful and accurate tribute. God bless Armondo and keep his and our loving arms around him.

  6. Avatar Kerri says:

    Brilliantly and beautifully expressed… you captured him perfectly. Gary, we will never stop missing you. Armando, we are here for you always.

  7. Avatar Curtis Chipley says:

    What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man. I worked with Gary over 2o years ago, he was then a wonderful and caring man. His passing will leave a big void in those who knew him and in our community as he was a blessing to this community. My prayers will be for Armando and Gary’s family. Hold on to the wonderful memories, and the love that Gary had for all of you. I would run in to Gary through the years, and he always talked about his family with love and caring. This world lost a wonderful blessing, but remember he will be watching over you…..
    Blessings….. Curtis Chipley

  8. Avatar Toni Goddard says:

    So sorry we were unable to make it to Gary’s service. Thank you so much for allowing us to have a place to express our love and feelings for the loss of our beautiful friend Gary… Gary may have been the quiet one in the relationship, but he definitely had a way of expressing his love for others by just being his caring, compassionate, giving self… Just the way he looked at you and asked about your life and how you were. You knew his heart was full of compassion. Thank you so much for having Jerry and me as a part of your lives. You have been a great example, even for a 28 year old married couple… I’m so grateful Jerry finally got to know you both at your Old Hollywood Party. I remember the last time I saw Gary just a few of weeks before we lost him. I’m so grateful I was able to give him a big hug and tell him and his Mom how wonderful he was. His amazing and loving spirit will live forever within everyone who ever knew him. We love you Armando and we are here for you anytime you need us. Xx :(….
    All our Love, Jerry and Toni Goddard

  9. Avatar Leah says:

    Thank you, James and Lisa. I did not know Gary well, but the thoughts you expressed accurately described the interactions I had. I feel for the loss Armando and the community have suffered in his passing. He will be remembered.

  10. Candace Candace says:

    What a beautiful tribute. Gary will be missed. Armando, many hearts are with you in this loss.

  11. Avatar melinda curtis says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I didn’t get the opportunity to meet Gary, but this article has given me a chance to know something about him. Gary seemed like a great guy and my heart goes out to everyone that knew him.

  12. Avatar Noella L. Pearson says:

    This is an extraordinary tribute to Gary. He was always a gentlemen. He enjoyed trying to get me flustered and teasing me. He continually told me that I was his favorite former nun. I am relatively certain that I was the only former nun he had ever known. I will dearly miss him. Gary, you are in my eternal thoughts and prayers. May you rest in peace. God bless you. Love you. Always, Nonie

  13. Avatar Grammalyn says:

    Gary was such a gift in my life. The very first time I met him, we formed an instant friendship. We just seemed to understand each other’s humor and he could make me laugh like no other. When I think of Gary, I see those twinkling eyes, bright white smile, and I hear his laugh. I have funny little reminders of him in my house, which now are absolute treasures. He even brought my cat, Steve, a gift the last time he and Armando were here. That was Gary. I saw him on Mother’s Day and we talked about having a movie night get together at his home. I never dreamed that in just a few short weeks that he would be taken from us. Armando and Gary were the perfect couple. We rarely saw one without the other, and they complemented one another so very well. I could write volumes of why I love them both, but I think James did an extraordinary job doing that. Godspeed, my funny friend.

  14. Avatar Noemi Mejorado says:

    Thank you for such a wonderful tribute to Gary.
    I never told him, but he showed me the meaning of true love by unconditionally loving my brother as he did….for this I will forever be indebted to Gary…thank you