October 4, 1947 – April 4, 2020
Detroit native Raymond Henry Warner Jr. graduated with the class of 1965 from Redford Union High School, attended Wayne State University, and worked for the State of Michigan from 1970 until his retirement. He was an early leader in the Detroit Gay Liberation Front, and wrote for the Gay Liberator and Gayzette newspapers. Warner became active in the Libertarian Party, running for Congress in 1996.
Michigan Libertarian, May 2, 2020
January 29, 1936 – April 30, 2001
Wolfgang Friedrich Jung moved to the U.S. from his native Germany in 1960 and operated his own automotive repair business, the Beetle Shop in Royal Oak, specializing in Volkswagens. He met his life partner David Hummel at Detroit’s Woodward Bar in 1969 and five years later they moved together to Traverse City where Jung opened Wolfgang’s Foreign Car Service.
Traverse City Record-Eagle, May 3, 2001
Friends North newsletter, Spring 2002
March 29, 1908 or 1916 – September 2, 1981
A native of Chicago, Samuel Fouche performed in the 1930s as Peggy Joyce at nightclubs in New York and became famous as the “Sepia Mae West.” By the early 1940s, he was living in Detroit and working as a waiter. In later life, Fouche found employment as a steward on an ocean liner, a job that took him to such ports of call as Columbia, France, Spain, Panama, and Venezuela.
Tampa Tribune, September 5, 1981
August 6, 1929 – December 26, 2009
Rene Delos Amaya earned his A.B. at Adrian College in 1951 and his Masters from the University of Michigan in 1959. He worked as a librarian at the Detroit Public Library, Oakland Community College, and the Los Angeles Public Library. As a resident of Boston-Edison in the 1970s, Amaya pressed Detroit to redefine family in its zoning ordinance. He was survived by his partner of 45 years John C. Lodge.
Los Angeles Times, January 10, 2010
April 15, 1951 – February 3, 2021
Gregory Charles Piazza moved to Detroit from Wisconsin to attend Wayne State University, where he earned a Bachelor’s in speech. He soon became enmeshed in local gay culture and in 1974 moved into the Palmer Park apartment district. His research was instrumental in having the neighborhood added to the National Register of Historic Places. Piazza was also long active in the leather club Tribe.
Between The Lines, February 11, 2021 [online only]
May 12, 1936 – December 10, 2022
Native Detroiter Charles Robert Alexander came out into the gay world while a student at Cass Tech. He earned his B.A. at Wayne State University and had a long career with the Detroit schools. An acclaimed artist, he was active with Affirmations and MCC Detroit, and in 1997 received the local LGBTQ Lifetime Achievement Award. Alexander wrote more than 700 columns over 27 years for Between The Lines.
Between The Lines, December 22, 2022
Driving Mother Knickers
March 8, 1954 – April 12, 2022
James Patrick “Jimmy” Dowdle, known to many in the LGBTQ+ community as Poodles, was born in Battle Creek and graduated in 1972 from St. Philip Catholic Central High School. After moving to Detroit, he joined the waitstaff at Menjo’s, later served as manager, and was co-owner for several years in the early 2000s. For the last 16 years of his life, Dowdle tended bar at Danny’s Irish Pub in Ferndale.
OutPost, May 2022
Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care
August 7, 1964 – May 27, 1991
Jamaican-born Duane Ivanhoe Richards graduated from Lansing Everett High School, attended the University of Michigan. and went on to work as a flight attendant for Eastern Airlines. He shared a home in Detroit and later Atlanta with Brent Dorian Carpenter, his life partner of more than four years, who was at his side when Richards passed away. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 26.
Lansing State Journal, May 31, 1991
Between The Lines, May 23, 2002
November 10, 1947 – December 24, 2019
Grammy-winning songwriter Alta Sharral “Allee” Willis was born in Detroit and graduated in 1965 from Mumford High School. Following college in Wisconsin, Willis moved to New York, where she launched her music career. Her credits include songs for Earth, Wind, and Fire, the Pointer Sisters, Bonnie Rait, and the theme for the sitcom Friends. Willis was survived by her partner of 27 years Prudence Fenton.
New York Times, December 25, 2019
June 21, 1928 – September 6, 2017
Ohio native Paul Eugene Espenscheid enjoyed a long career in hospitality, from the 1970s to the late 1980s was part owner and manager of the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge in Monroe. Following the death of Mike Crawford in 1988, Espenschied became co-owner with Don Hazlett of Menjo’s dance club in Detroit. Beyond his business interests, he also supported a number of AIDS and gay rights causes.
Between The Lines, November 9, 2017