Mystery surrounds the death of Gaydar founder

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The Independent Online

Gary Frisch had tickets to fly to Sydney for its Mardis Gras. He had ordered a BMW X5 and talked enthusiastically of plans to be among the first to travel on the new Airbus A380.

On Friday night, as usual, the workaholic entre-preneur and founder of the Gaydar dating website was calling colleagues with plans for the following week.

He asked a consultant, Susanne Jerry, to send a tray of his favourite Cherry Diet Cokes to the concierge of the luxury riverside apartments where he lived as a thank you for sorting out the plumbing.

Yet, just hours later, he was dead, found beneath the balcony of his eighth-floor flat in Battersea Reach, London, at lunchtime last Saturday. Friends remain bewildered and stunned.

"We are shocked, sad, upset, angry, any emotion you can think of," said his old friend and former partner, Henry Badenhorst, 37. "The effect of this will be long in coming,"

The 38-year-old South African-born entrepreneur had established himself as one of the country's most well-respected gay businessmen. Gaydar had transformed the gay dating scene.

He had had a difficult year after losing his mother two months ago and separating from Mr Badenhorst - though they remained friends and business partners - but those close to him insisted he was getting on with life as normal.

"Gary had had a pretty tumultuous past 12 months including the amicable dissolution of our 12-year partnership," Mr Badenhorst said. "As soon as he was getting back on his feet from that, his mother, Rona passed away just before Christmas."

Colleagues remained convinced it must have been an accident. Scotland Yard would say only that his death was "unexplained" and an initial post-mortem showed he had died of multiple injuries. They are awaiting toxicology tests.

Ms Jerry said: "On Monday, we told all the staff. There was obviously, shock, horror, tears. He cared a great deal about the people he worked with. It is not a corporation. There are only 70 people. It is a family.

"You always knew when Gary was in the office. He was the technical brains behind the venture. He was so lively and energetic, he created a real buzz. I don't think Gary really realised what he had achieved."

Another friend and colleague, commercial director David Muniz, described Mr Frisch as an unassuming, unpretentious man, who remained passionate about his work and slightly bemused by its dramatic success. Gary truly, truly loved what he did. He loved it with a passion and he felt a strong obligation to the people who used the service."

The computer graduate had moved to the UK with Mr Badenhorst in 1997 to launch QSoft Consulting. Two years later, he was asked by a friend to help him find a boyfriend because he was too busy. He found few efficient gay dating sites, so Mr Frisch and Mr Badenhorst launched Gaydar in 1999. They worked night and day to get the site going. By his death, the site had more than 3.5 million users in 23 countries and was among the best-known gay brands, earning more than £1m.

Tributes to the site creator

* J, Belfast

Gaydar is the only thing that has made me accept who I am. Without it, I would never have met some of the guys who are now good friends. You made a huge difference to so many peoples' lives.

* Amazing, South Africa

The man who created a cyber Disneyworld for gay men all over the world is no longer with us. Gary Frisch created connections, companionship and love in places that beforehand were not possible.

* Liam, UK

In our modern yet very prejudicial taboo-ridden society, your hard work and skill has contributed to helping so many of us have an improved life.

* Dwayne, New Jersey United States

If it weren't for the greatness of this one man, I would not have found all the wonderful people in the world that I have come to know and love.