Virgil Leone

Virgil Leone pic

May 30, 1952 – November 6, 1999

Virgil Julius “Tony” Leone was born in Detroit and graduated with the class of 1970 from Mt. Pleasant High School.  At Central Michigan University, he was an early member of Gay Liberation, serving as its president in the mid-1970s.  Leone later moved to San Francisco where he worked as a Registered Nurse and became involved in local HIV/AIDS activism.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 47.

Bay Area Reporter, November 18, 1999

William Townsend

William Townsend pic

July 18, 1952 – July 17, 1993

Eastpointe resident William Daryl Townsend was founding president of Friends Alliance for people with HIV, served on the board of Wellness Networks, and co-founded the Detroit chapter of ACT UP.  His appearance on WDIV’s Sonya Friedman Show was canceled in 1985 because the camera crew feared AIDS contagion.  He died of AIDS-related complications at age 40.

Cruise, July 28, 1993

Richard Shank

Richard Shank pic

January 28, 1952 – February 27, 1992

Detroit native Richard Steven Shank graduated from Novi High School in 1971 and worked as a waiter and bartender at Morey’s and the Escape.  Shank was also involved in local community theater and for a time performed female impersonation as Rickie Day.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 39.

Cruise, March 18, 1992

Dan-Michael Vigliarolo

Dan-Michael Vigliarolo pic

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

Sheila Fortuin

Sheila Fortuin pic

May 3, 1952 – November 23, 2016

Born in Byron Center, Portage resident Sheila Fortuin graduated from Byron Center High School in 1970, and attended Ferris State University for a short time before taking a job with the city of East Grand Rapids.  She later worked at the Rock-Tenn paper plant in Otsego until its closure in 2004.  Fortuin and her life partner Trish Breithaupt shared 21 years together.

Life Story

Russell Bowman

Russell Bowman pic

January 26, 1952 – May 23, 1993

Royal Oak resident Russell Bowman Jr. was born in Detroit and grew up in Grosse Pointe, where he graduated from Grosse Pointe High School.  Bowman had a long career as an interior decorator and for many years was active in the local leather community, holding the title of Mr. Michigan Leather for 1988-89.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 41.

Cruise, June 9, 1993

Leon Smith

Leon Smith pic

August 7, 1952 – January 12, 2012

Detroiter Leon Smith attended Murray-Smith High School and became active in the local LGBT community in the 1980s.  He helped launch the Men of Color Motivational Group, was one of the original organizers of the Hotter Than July pride celebration, and took part in a support group for HIV+ men sponsored by what was then known as Kick!.

Between The Lines, January 26, 2012