Harvey Meissner, president and general manager of The Hidden Door Inc., this week helped carry on the legacy of two LGBT community stalwarts by presenting donations totaling a quarter-million dollars to three community organizations.
AIN (Access and Information Network, formerly AIDS Interfaith Network), Resource Center and Legacy Counseling Center each received checks for $83,333, Meissner said, explaining that the funds came from trusts established by the estates of the two men who owned and operated The Hidden Door during the nearly 40 years since it first opened.
He also stressed that these donations won’t be the last.
The $250,000 in donations this week, Meissner said, marked the last donation from the Jim Roberts Charitable Trust, and the first of many to come from the Anthony Bobrow Trust.
Each of the three organizations also received a second check this week, bringing each one’s total to $87,833. Those extra funds, Meissner said, came from a fund — established in the 1990s and administered by Tony Bobrow — to provide cremations for Dallas County residents who died of AIDS-related causes who might otherwise have gone to a pauper’s grave.
“With advances in medicine, there’s less need for that today,” Meissner said in a press release announcing the donations, “and [Bobrow] instructed that the fund, now totaling $13,500, be divided between Resource Center, Legacy Counseling Center and AIDS Interfaith Network. So each of them [received] checks for an additional $4,500.”
Jim Roberts, known to his friends as “Polock,” moved to Dallas from Illinois in 1975. Four years later, he opened The Hidden Door, which today remains one of the Dallas LGBT community’s favorite bars. During his 13 years in Dallas, Roberts was known for his dedication to the LGBT community and its organizations. He was a member and/or supporter of a large number of organizations, from the Oak Lawn Counseling Center to the PWA Coalition (which has evolved into what is now AIDS Services of Dallas), to the Dallas Tavern Guild and the Bar Owners Association of Texas, to Oak Lawn Bowling League and TGRA.
When he died at the age of 48, in February 1988, his estate went into a trust, which has through the years donated to worthy causes in the community.
When Roberts died, Anthony “Tony” Bobrow took over as owner of Hidden Door, and as manager of the Jim Roberts Trust. He continued Roberts’ tradition of supporting and contributing to the community until his death in February this year, 30 years later. As he directed, his estate also went into a trust.
“The Jim Roberts Trust was established early on, pretty much upon his death, and it has been in play and making donations for the last 30 years,” Meissner said this week. “And when Tony died rather unexpectedly this year, his will stated that his estate would go into a trust, too. He wanted us to be able to keep on giving back to the community.”
Meissner explained that through the years, Bobrow had been the sole trustee of the Jim Roberts Charitable Trust. With Bobrow’s death, he said, the Roberts trust is being “cleared out and closed down. These donations this week will likely be the last thing involving the Jim Roberts Trust.”
He continued, “The Anthony Bobrow Trust will be the main source, moving forward. His cars, his house and all his investments went into the trust and it is generating income. It is well-founded and it is self-sustaining. And it will be operating and well-funded for years to come, long after I am gone.
“And donations like this, although maybe not so large all at once, are something we will be doing on an annual basis to put money back into the community,” Meissner said.
Meissner has worked for The Hidden Door for 36 years. He was vice president and general manager of company for five years, until taking over as president upon Bobrow’s death. He explained that the bar “will be a significant part of funding the Anthony Bobrow Trust for years to come, too. At the end of the year, when all the expenses are taken care of, money from the bar will go into the trust.”
Meissner said that Roberts and Bobrow both “had faith in the future of our community, and they wanted their legacies to be shared with the community. And the Hidden Door staff looks forward to continuing the work they started by continuing to contribute. That’s what Jim and Tony told us to do, and that’s what we are going to do.”
Credit: Published in Dallas Voice