Tim Mains, Rochester’s first openly gay City Councilman, dies suddenly at 73

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Tim Mains, the first openly gay member of Rochester’s City Council, activist, and educator has died. He was 73.

BronxNews12 reports that he died suddenly after a medical emergency.

Mains worked as a teacher, counselor and staff developer in the Greece Central School District from 1971 to 2002 before becoming a principal in the Rochester City School District. He rose to the position of Director of Internal School Operations for the RCSD in 2012.

In 1986, he became a Rochester City Councilmember At-Large, where he chaired the Finance & Law Committee, Jobs & Economic Development Committee, and Public Services & the Arts Committee. He left the City Council in 2005.

He moved downstate in 2013. His last position was Superintendent at Pine Bush Central School District.

Mayor James Patrick Smith sent the following statement about his passing:

“Tim Mains broke significant barriers for the LGBTQ+ community when he became the first gay member of Rochester’s City Council. Tim was also a vocal and well-known activist for gay rights long before his initial forays into politics and he was incredibly passionate about helping those impacted by AIDS and HIV. He greatly valued public service and, in particular public education, where he served up until his untimely death. I initially knew him as ‘Mr. Mains’ because he was a Guidance Counselor in my high school. In that role, I remember him as an advocate for myself and my classmates as he assisted and encouraged us with our college applications. Tim Mains made Rochester a richer community for his activism and service in both government and public education. On behalf of our City, I extend my deepest condolences to his family and all who knew and loved him. In his honor, I have ordered that flags at City facilities remain at half-staff for the former Councilmember, as I have already ordered them lowered for the passing of Gary Beikirch.”

Mayor-Elect Malik Evans released the following statement:

"I was saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Tim Mains, a former Rochester City Council Member, School Principal, and School Superintendent in Pine Bush. I had the honor of working with Tim in several capacities over the years. I first got to know Tim while serving as a Legislative Aide for Rochester City Council. I was impressed with Tim’s deep knowledge of city finances and his passion and love for the City. Tim was also a dedicated educator who worked to better the lives of young people. While serving on the School Board, I served as the Board Liason to School 50, where Tim served as Principal. He was a great school leader who went above and beyond, engaging the school community. I kept in touch with Tim when he served as a School Superintendent in various school districts over the last decade. His commitment to education, community, and his family was admirable. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time. May his soul rest in peace."

Rochester City School District Superintendent Dr. Lesli Myers-Small sent the following statement:

"We are extremely saddened by the sudden passing of Tim Mains. Tim was a long-standing leader at the Rochester City School District and was highly regarded throughout his career. Tim was the Principal of School 50 for over 10 years, and the Director of Internal School Operations, where he led a team focused on quality assurance and systems integrity. He was a steadfast advocate for youth, the LGBTQ+ community, and residents of the City of Rochester where he served as a City Council member. Tim leaves a legacy in education that built bridges and created community. He will be sorely missed.

"On behalf of the Rochester City School District, I want to extend our deepest condolences to Tim’s family, co-workers, students, and the families he served. Tim Mains impacted and shaped many lives in Rochester. His legacy will carry on forever in the scholars he inspired, the families he helped, and the colleagues with whom he shared a great passion for education."

Assemblyman Harry Bronson (D, 138) sent the following statement:

"Like so many in our community, I am saddened to hear of the passing of Tim Mains. Tim was an outstanding leader, a talented elected official, a progressive public servant, a visionary educator and a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community. Tim was a tireless advocate for children and education as a guidance counselor, a principal, and a superintendent. Most of all Tim was a good friend. When I choose Rochester as my home, Tim was one of the first people I met. He offered me friendship, guidance and mentoring, and made sure I felt at home in the community he loved and was proud to serve. As the first openly gay elected official in all of New York State, Tim stood up for the rights of those who were voiceless, shunned and marginalized. He understood the messages of Susan B. Anthony, Fredrick Douglass, Baynard Rustin and Harvey Milk and he continued in their tradition of agitating and education for the advancement of civil rights for all. Tim encouraged me to dedicate myself to public service as well. Tim and I joked that we were, and forever would be, tied at the hip because of all the time we spent in LGBTQ activism and politics. He always pushed me to do more, fight harder and never give up for our LGBTQ community and our right to be who we are. I will miss my dear friend and send my thoughts and prayers to David, his husband, and all who loved this amazing, wonderful man. God Speed Tim O. my hip will miss you!"