Carl Rippberger

Carl Rippberger pic

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

Ronald Hoenig

Ronald Hoenig pic

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

Scott McCready

Scott McCready pic

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

Jim Proffitt

Jim Proffitt pic

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

Tom Bartley

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

Leslie Leoneli

Leslie Leonelli pic

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

Harry Kevorkian

Harry Kevorkian pic

August 7, 1947 – February 3, 2002

Originally from Waterford, Harry “Kitty” Kevorkian became involved in the Gay Liberation Front in Ann Arbor during in the early 1970s.  He, took part in numerous protests, once crashing an event donned in skag drag at the home of the president of the University of Michigan.  Kevorkian was a candidate for the city’s mayor in 1974 and later headed the bus union during a 42-day walkout.

Between The Lines, February 21, 2002