“He was always the first to volunteer for everything.”

Ricky Martin at Sully’s Toy Run to raise funds for child cancer research.

It wasn’t unusual for Waterford’s Stephen Taylor to be awakened at 4 a.m. by the whirring of an electric mixer. It was his husband, Ricky Martin, who loved to rise early and whip up extravagant cookies, cupcakes, and cheesecakes. Most were donated to fundraisers for local nonprofits.

“Ricky gave it all away and that’s what he wanted,” Taylor explained. “It was one way he could find joy and make people happy at the same time.”

Martin pitched in for an array of community groups, especially during the years he served up drinks at New London’s longtime gay bar, Frank’s Place (now closed). From drag shows to comedy nights, Martin co-organized events to benefit lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) causes. All the while, with his easy smile and humble manner behind the bar, Martin nurtured a space for patrons to gather and feel safe.

Sadly, after 30 years together, Taylor lost Martin to cancer in 2022. To carry on his legacy, Taylor established The Ricky Martin Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation. It aims to support the LGBTQ+ community and youth across Eastern Connecticut’s 42 towns.

Taylor plans to award the Fund’s first grant to the Alliance for Living in New London, an HIV/AIDS service organization and resource center that also assists people challenged by homelessness and substance use disorders.

Martin volunteered for years on the Alliance’s board of directors and baked countless confections for its fundraisers. In recognition of his remarkable dedication and service, later this year the organization plans on renaming its building in Martin's honor.