Thomas Kyewski

Tommy Kyewski pic

October 27, 1961 – May 21, 2005

Known in Detroit’s gay community as Tommy K, Thomas Patrick Kyewski attended Hamtramck High School.  At various local nightspots in the 1980s and ‘90s, he did go-go dancing and performed as Tina Wells, and held the distinction of winning both the Miss Gay Detroit and Mr. Gay Detroit competitions.  Kyewski also won female impersonation titles at Gigi’s, the Gold Coast, Club Incognito, and Footlights.

Our Community Roots

Brian Killian

Brian Killian pic

June 3, 1947 – March 9, 2005

Born in Detroit, Brian Joseph Killian earned his B.A. at Ferris State and MBA at Wayne State.  He taught at Grosse Pointe North High School before switching careers and becoming a celebrated interior designer.  Killian donated generously to the Triangle Foundation and served as co-chair of the 1993 Human Rights Campaign Michigan Dinner gala fundraiser.  A fire in his Birmingham home took his life.

Detroit Free Press, March 11, 2005

Between The Lines, March 17, 2005

Sharon Smith

Sharon Smith pic 2

May 2, 1940 – April 10, 2005

Royal Oak resident Sharon Lee Smith was born in Detroit and graduated of Redford High School in 1958.  She was later employed as an office manager for many years.  Smith enjoyed lesbian romance novels, the LPGA, the History Channel, and Jeapardy.  Before a stroke forced her to live in a nursing home, she shared a home with her partner of 29 years Joyce.

Lesbian Connection September/October 2005

Harvi Griffin

Harvi Griffin pic

December 14, 1936 – August 9, 2005

Detroit native Harvi Alonzo Griffin was a world-renowned harpist, singer, and teacher.  He graduated from Cass Tech High School and earned a B.A. and his first She M.A. from Michigan State University, served in the U.S. Army from 1962 to 1964, and pursued further studies at the Eastman School of Music.  Griffin moved to Phoenix in the late 1980s and was survived by his partner of 13 years Lee Barr.

Arizona Republic, August 21, 2005

Martha Charles

May 29, 1944 – April 6, 2005

Martha Charles of Lathrup Village was born in Crawfordsville, Indiana and as a toddle moved to Detroit, where she graduated with the class of 1962 from Cass Tech High School.  After earning her B.A. from Western Michigan University, she taught middle and high school in St. Clair Shores.  Charles was active in Women Together and co-founded the group Lesbian-A-Sisters.  Her partner Sue Brooks survived her.

Between The Lines, May 12, 2005

Erroll Hert

Erroll Hert pic

January 22, 1943 – June 23, 2005

Erroll Wayne Hert took his mother’s name Vaunda for his stage name, wowing audiences as the renowned Vaunda Lee at Menjo’s, the Gold Coast, Triple XXX, and other Detroit bars in the 1970s and 1980s.  He won the Camp Prize from the Performer Awards of Detroit in 1982.  Hert resided in his hometown of Bedford, Indiana at the time of his death.

Our Community Roots

Mary Appelhof

Mary Appelhof pic

June 11, 1936 – May 4, 2005

Known as the “Worm Woman,” Kalamazoo resident Nary Arlene Appelhof became a world-renowned expert on using earthworms for composting.  She was born in Detroit, grew up in Alma, and attended high school in Ohio.  She earned a B.S. and two Masters from Michigan State and taught in Kalamazoo and at Interlochen.  Appelhof was survived by her partner of 27 years Mary Frances Fenton.

Kalamazoo Gazette, May 5, 2005

Between The Lines, May, 19, 2005

Lesbian Connection, September/October 2006

Regi Thompson

Regi Thompson pic

June 17, 1955 – June 27, 2005

Detroit native Regi Thompson worked as a party promoter before opening his own gay club, Regine’s Off the Park, in 1997 on the city’s east side.  When a fire gutted the club, Thompson rebuilt and expanded the space into a premiere dance spot.  He later renamed the bar the Palladium.

Between The Lines, June 30, 2005

Henry Trent

Henry Trent pic

September 16, 1927 – October 2, 2005

Union Lake resident Henry Charles Trent served in the U.S. military and operated Trent’s Prime Rib Beef Market in Detroit prior to opening Menjo’s in Detroit with Mike Crawford and Joe LaRosa.  Trent also owned the Prudential Health Club in Detroit.

Detroit Free Press, October 4, 2005

Marlene Kutz

March 23, 1932 – February 27, 2005

Marlene Kutz grew up in Dearborn and later resided in Livonia and Harrison Township.  A subscriber to the Ladder in the early 1970s and supporter of the Forum Foundation in the 1990s, Kutz was also a sister in the Catholic Church.

Detroit News, March 1, 2005