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
December 2, 1965 – May 17, 1994
Born in Detroit, James Douglas Drain served in the U.S. Army from 1984 to 1986 and was active in the organization Men of Color. He later worked as office manager for Affirmations Community Center. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 28.
Affirmations newsletter, July 1994
July 13, 1945 – September 5, 1994
Chester Cislo attended St. Casimir High School on Detroit’s West Side and worked as a sexton at St. James Catholic Church in Ferndale. Cislo represented the Detroit Together Men’s Chorus on the Detroit Area Gay/Lesbian Council, was active with Wellness Networks and the NAMES Project, and served on the board for Friends Alliance. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 49.
Cruise, September 28, 1994
November 14, 1964 – July 14, 1994
Shelby Township resident Roy Vance Warren was born in Grosse Pointe and attended the Michigan School for the Deaf in Flint. Warren served as president of the Detroit Sign Theater and was involved in other deaf organizations. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 29.
Cruise, August 10, 1994
December 1, 1960 – December 4, 1994
Detroit native Roger Alan McKinney graduated from Fraser High School in 1979. McKinney bartended at the Back Pocket and the CCW in the early 1980s before moving to South Haven, where he worked as a nurse’s aide at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 34.
Cruise, December 14, 1994
November 9, 1944 – November 7, 1994
A founder of the Lesbian and Gay Community Network of West Michigan, Dennis Komac served in Army from 1968 to 1970 and moved to Grand Rapids in 1984 to serve as executive director of the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Komac and his life partner Jeff Swanson later operated Sons and Daughters bookstore. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 49.
Network newsletter, December 1994
May 29, 1940 – April 18, 1994
Joseph LaRosa Jr. was born in Ann Arbor, graduated from Dexter High School, and attended Cleary Business School. In the early 1970s, LaRosa hosted Lillian’s Down Under in the lower level of Bookie’s Club 870 in Detroit. In December 1974, he, Michael Crawford, and Hank Trent opened the former supper club Menjo’s as a gay dance club. LaRosa later operated Orca’s before moving to Phoenix.
Dexter Leader, May 4, 1994