April 10, 1947 – February 4, 2018
Paulettia Ann French of Kalamazoo, originally from Arkansas, graduated with the class of 1965 from Berrien Springs High School and later worked as non-profit directors for senior services. French and her partner of 27 years Tammy Vollrath were married in 2016.
Kalamazoo Gazette, February 6, 2018
October 8, 1947 – May 16, 1994
Born in Detroit, Carl Rippberger graduated from Denby High School and served a tour of duty in Vietnam as a U.S. Army draftee. He bar tended at Tiffany’s before acquiring the Escape Lounge, which he opened as Backstreet nightclub in 1979. Rippberger served as president of the Detroit Bar Guild and helped raise funds for Wellness House and Affirmations. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 46.
Detroit Free Press, May 19, 1994
Cruise, May 25, 1994
Affirmations Newsletter, July 1994
January 8, 1947 – October 4, 2014
Ronald Hoenig of Bonita Springs, Florida was born in Toledo, Ohio and grew up in Adrian and Blissfield. He served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and later operated a cabinetry business with Art Trevino, his partner of 27 years. The couple would have liked to have married but Hoenig died months before the Supreme Court made it legally possible.
Adrian Daily Telegram, October 11, 2014
August 3, 1947 – May 14, 1992
Mt. Clemens native and resident Scott McCready attended Hillsdale College before moving to California. He returned to Metro Detroit in the mid-1980s after learning he had HIV. As president of Friends Alliance for two years, McCready was a prominent local advocate for Persons with AIDS. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 44.
Detroit Free Press, May 15, 1992
Michigan Tribune, February 6, 1992
May 13, 1947 – February 8, 1993
Detroit native and onetime seminary student James Earl Proffitt was an out real estate agent and for sixteen years was organist for Zion Lutheran Church in Ferndale. In the 1980s, he served as an officer of the Detroit Area Gay/Lesbian Council and later worked for AIDS Care Connection. Proffitt fathered a daughter with lesbian friend J. Charlene Genther. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 45.
Detroit Free Press, February 10, 1993
Royal Oak Tribune, February 10, 1993
November 19, 1947 – January 10, 1990
Utica resident Thomas Michael Bartley grew up in Port Huron, earned his B.S. in nursing in Houston and a Master’s in nursing from Mercy College in Detroit. He sang in the choir at Zion Lutheran Church in Ferndale and was involved in both Wellness Networks and AIDS Interfaith Network. Bartley was survived by two children and his lover Jim Proffitt. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 42.
Detroit Free Press, January 11, 1990
December 21, 1947 – September 24, 2009
Raised in Highland Park, Leslie Leonelli attended Oakland University and worked in local theater in Rochester and beyond Michigan before moving to New York City in 1973. Following a career off-Broadway, she worked as a massage therapist and helped found the women’s production company Ars Pro Femina. Later in life she operated Pearl’s Rainbow, a renowned resort for women.
Lesbian Connection, January/February 2010