May 28, 1969 – June 23, 1990
Diane Kotila was born in Southfield and graduated with the class of 1987 from Kimball High School in Royal Oak. She was a student at Oakland University and was employed by William Beaumont Hospital. After losing her life in an automobile accident, friends held a benefit at the Railroad Crossing for a fund in her name at Affirmations to help provide lesbian and gay youth with counseling and support.
Royal Oak Daily Tribune, June 24, 1990
Affirmations newsletter, September 1990
April 15, 1949 – April 26, 2010
A board member of Affirmations in the early 1990s, Kathryn Leta Wright of Lathrup Village earned her D.O. from the Michigan State University School of Osteopathic Medicine. In her position with the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, she founded the Horizons Project in 1994 targeting the needs of HIV-positive and at-risk youth. Wright was survived by her life partner Susan Brooks and daughter Jordan.
Between The Lines, May 6, 2010
December 19, 1952 – April 27, 2017
Detroit native Peter Cooper, Cody High School class of 1971, worked for National City Bank for 20 years and for a decade was employed with AIDS Partnership Michigan. While in college in the early 1970s, he became involved in the Wayne State Gay Liberation Front. He was subsequently active in MCC Detroit, ASP, Simcha, and Affirmations. Cooper was survived by his partner of 12 years Jonathan Quirk.
Between The Lines, May 4, 2017
June 9, 1962 – June 29, 2016
Redford pharmacist Darnell Demorris Jones was as an advocate and activist for transgender people in transition. He served as vice president of the Gender Identity Network Alliance and co-founded the group Transcend the Binary. For his outreach work, Jones received the Outstanding Ally Award from Affirmations in 2014.
Oakland County Times, June 30, 2016
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
December 8, 1998 – February 16, 2019
Dani Som, also known as Dani Sommerville, was born in Southfield and was a 2017 graduate of Berkley High School. He received a Spirit of Detroit Award in 2015 for achievement and leadership, including his involvement in music and theater, as well as extensive volunteer work. As an out young trans man, Som was active with Affirmations and FtM Detroit. Months after moving to Oregon, he took his own life.
Between The Lines, April 11, 2019
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