April 3, 1933 – December 6, 1983
Originally from Arkansas, Winfred Wells was raised in Detroit and in the 1950s became a noted local beatnik poet. In the 1960s he performed female impersonation under his own name at the Diplomat Lounge. Wells subsequently moved to England, where he wrote screenplays and lived with his longtime companion, director Silvio Narizzano.
London Times, December 8, 1983
April 26, 1955 – September 27, 1991
Born in Detroit, Wilmer Gunther Jr. worked for many years at the Deck in Detroit and performed locally as Hummin Helen. Gunther also worked as a floral designer. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 36.
Metra, October 9, 1991
March 23, 1921 – June 12, 2018
Detroit native Gilbert Hart Whelden Jr. attended Cranbrook Academy and Olivet College before serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. He later graduated from Michigan State University and worked as an interior designer for J.L. Hudson. He was also a member of the Forum Foundation and Unlimited Seniors. In retirement, Whelden shared a home in Leland with his partner Paul Kieren.
Leelanau Enterprise, June 21,2018
September 2, 1941 – April 20, 1992
Detroit native and onetime resident of Dallas, Texas, Sharon Piazza worked as a bouncer at Menjo’s in Detroit and performed in local community theater.
This Week in Texas, May 1, 1992
October 24, 1927 – July 6, 1961
Born in Detroit, William John Cornell attended Wayne University and, as one of city’s premier theatrical press agents in the 1950s, represented various stars when they visited the Motor City, including Ethel Merman and Marlena Dietrich. Cornell and his partner Peter Prass were killed when a fire gutted their Chicago Boulevard apartment.
Detroit Free Press, July 7, 1961
January 30, 1939 – September 1, 2016
Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Deborah Ann Mortimer graduated from Grosse Pointe South High School, attended Albion College, and earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Oakland University. An avid golfer and artist, she taught elementary school from 1974 to 2004. Mortimer and her life partner of 40 years Liana Holton shared a home in Bloomfield Hills.
Detroit Free Press, September 11, 2016
February 8, 1952 – February 15, 1993
Born in Dearborn, Dan-Michael Vigliarolo grew up in Livonia where he graduated from Franklin High School. After studying at Michigan State University, he ran a beauty parlor on Detroit’s West Side before moving to Kew West. Upon returning to Michigan, Vigliarolo became involved in Friends Alliance and worked as managing editor for Metra. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 41.
Metra, March 3, 1993