Patti Gibbs

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February 12, 1943 – November 24, 2014

Rockford resident Patricia “Patti” Gibbs graduated with the class of 1961 from Central High School in Grand Rapids and retired from Quest Diagnostics.  She was a longtime member of Reconciliation Metropolitan Community Church and served as one of its directors.

Reyers North Valley Chapel

Erroll Hert

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January 22, 1943 – June 23, 2005

Erroll Wayne Hert took his mother’s name Vaunda for his stage name, wowing audiences as the renowned Vaunda Lee at Menjo’s, the Gold Coast, Triple XXX, and other Detroit bars in the 1970s and 1980s.  He won the Camp Prize from the Performer Awards of Detroit in 1982.  Hert resided in his hometown of Bedford, Indiana at the time of his death.

Our Community Roots

Atiba Cohen

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May 6, 1943 – March 20, 2016

Roseville resident Atiba Nosakhere Cohen, formerly of Inkster, supported the Forum Foundation, served on the board of directors of Karibu House, and was active in the formation of SAGE Detroit.  Cohen was posthumously awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 6th annual LGBT Older Adult Summit in Detroit in 2016.

No known obituary

Anthony Caputo

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December 26, 1943 – May 12, 1995

Born in Detroit, hairdresser Anthony Caputo attended the Virginia Farrell Beauty School and landed a job at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York at age 20.  He returned to Michigan in the early 1980s and later learned he was HIV-positive.  Caputo went on to help found AIDS Walk Detroit and work as volunteer coordinator for Wellness House.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 51.

Detroit Free Press, May 18, 1995

Bill Kain

Bill Kain pic

August 7, 1943 – February 28, 1991

Flint native William James Kain was a school teacher before entering the gay bar business.  Kain worked as a manager at Stober’s Disco in Lansing and Sylvia’s Club Oasis in Flint in the mid-1970s before opening his own Flint bar the Downtowner’s Club, later renamed the Copa.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 47.

Flint Journal, March 2, 1991

Cruise, March 6, 1991

Diane Hasty

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November 13, 1943 – August 15, 2003

Flat Rock High School graduate Dianne Hasty was a founding member of Lesbian-A-Sisters, past president of the Detroit Cocker Spaniel Club, and served on the board for the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit.  Before her retirement in 1987, she was systems manager of radiology at Oakwood Heritage Hospital.  She and her partner Tina Gorzenski relocated to Pellston in 2000.

Detroit News, September 3, 2003

Between The Lines, September 25, 2003

Lesbian Connection, January/February 2004

Randy French

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September 2, 1943 – November 24, 2015

Born in Pontiac, Randell “Randy” French served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, worked at the GM V-8 Engine Plant in Flint, and belonged to the Masonic Lodge in Ortonville.  For a time, he also tended bar at the Interchange and other Detroit gay nightspots.

Flint Journal, May 15, 2016

John Mathieson

John Mathieson pic

July 22, 1943 – August 5, 1985

William John Mathieson grew up in Grove City, Pennsylvania and attended graduate school at Michigan State University where he earned a Master’s in Spanish in 1967.  He later worked as an instructor at San Francisco Community College.  He died of complications from AIDS at age 42.

No known obituary.

Kristin Cookson

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August 2, 1943 – February 13, 2017

Port Huron native Kristin Cookson attended Jackson High School and earned her B.S. in veterinary medicine from Michigan State University in 1965 and the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from MSU in 1967.  She and her wife Suzanne Marie Lohrberg were together 49 years.

Kalamazoo Gazette, February 19, 2017

James Dressel

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October 14, 1943 – March 27, 1992

James Dressel flew combat missions for the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War before being elected from Holland to the Michigan Legislature, a seat he lost due to sponsoring a bill to include sexual orientation under the state’s civil rights protections.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 48.

Michigan Tribune, April 1992

A Different Angle: Jim Dressel

James K. Dressel papers at the Bentley Historical Library