Augustus Rissman

Augustus Rissman aka Gorgeous Gussy pic

September 7, 1922 – May 30, 1997

Detroit native Augustus Herman Rissman was better known to members of the local gay community as Gorgeous Gussy.  Noted for “a gravelly voice and gruff manner,” Rissman entertained audiences throughout the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s at such Detroit bars as the Golden Slipper, LaRosa’s, the Diplomat, and the Gold Dollar.

Cruise, June 18, 1997

Gerry Crane

Gerry Crane pic 2

August 25, 1964 – January 3, 1997

Mount Clemens native Gerald Mark “Gerry” Crane graduated from Mount Clemens High School and attended Grand Rapids Baptist College and Calvin College.  He taught high school music in Byron Center and was loved by his students, but officials hounded him from his job in 1996 when parents learned that he and his partner Randy Block held a commitment ceremony.  Crane died from a heart attack at age 32.

Between The Lines, February 1997

Michigan Radio segment on Private Love, Public School: Gay Teacher Under Fire

David Sefernick

David Sefernick pic

August 23, 1964 – January 11, 1997

David Andrew Sefernick was born in Flint and attended the Carman schools.  During high school, he regularly snuck into the Copa nightclub, where he met his first gay friends and where he later had a job operating the light system.  After living in New York for six years, he returned to Flint in the early 1990s and was a manager at Burger King.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 32.

Flint Journal, January 13, 1997

Tim Stempniewski

Tim Stempniewski pic

November 24, 1957 – November 6, 1996

Timothy Dean Stempniewski attended Aquinas High School in Southgate and held degrees in education, nursing, and music.  He worked as a home-care nurse for Henry Ford Hospital and served as a church organist.  In the 1990s he was active with several recovery groups at Affirmations.  Stempniewski was found slain in his Detroit home at age 39.

OutPost, January 22, 1997

Clifford Reynolds Jr.

Clifford Reynolds pic

January 25, 1921 – December 26, 1997

Actor and artist, Clifford Reynolds Jr. grew up in Highland Park and attended what was then called Wayne University in Detroit.  He married in 1945, moved with his wife to California in 1952, and they divorced in 1968.  A radio and television performer, Reynolds was survived by companion Lorne Gay.

Bay Area Reporter, January 1, 1998

Jack Pierson

Jack Pierson pic

October 11, 1913 – August 20, 1997

Flint native Jack Pierson was a fierce Leftist.  Employed by General Motors, following World War II, he and his longtime partner Robert Purcell moved to Long Island.  After Purcell’s death in 1976, Pierson returned to Michigan where he became an avid supporter of the Flint Institute of Arts, donating dozens of photographs, etchings, and lithographs to the museum.

Flint Journal, August 22, 1997