September 18, 1963 – April 3, 2020
Growing up in the 1970s, Ellen Marie Rogowski of Holly was the first girl to play in a boys’ baseball league in Royal Oak. She earned her B.A. and M.A. from Oakland University and taught middle school in Pontiac and English at Henry Ford Community College and Lewis College of Business. She was also an accomplished musician, releasing three albums. She and Rosemary Jozwiak shared 30 years together.
Sharp Funeral Homes
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
August 7, 1952 – September 1, 2004
While pursuing his first undergraduate degree at Oakland University, Detroit native Homer Young-Kennedy III served as arts editor for the student newspaper. He went on to earn a B.A. in audiology and speech from Michigan State University and taught special education. Young-Kennedy moved to New York City in 1980.
In Tribute: Homer Young-Kennedy III: 1952-2004
August 18, 1946 – January 14, 2011
Cynthia Susan Everling, known to friends as Cindy, graduated from Pontiac Central High School and studied philosophy at Oakland University, with additional studies at Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan. She was a case manager and grant writer for the HIV/AIDS Resource Center. Everling resided in Ann Arbor with her partner of 28 years Lin Jacobs.
February 7, 1991 – January 24, 2019
Grosse Pointe Woods resident Nathan DeWayne Strickland Jr. earned his Bachelor’s in forensic psychology from Tiffin University in 2013 and his Master’s in community counseling from Oakland University in 2016. Strickland worked with LGBT Detroit and the Community Health Awareness Group, was active in Hotter Than July, and attended the First Unitarian-Universalist Church of Detroit.
Between The Lines, January 31, 2019
January 30, 1939 – September 1, 2016
Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Deborah Ann Mortimer graduated from Grosse Pointe South High School, attended Albion College, and earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Oakland University. An avid golfer and artist, she taught elementary school from 1974 to 2004. Mortimer and her life partner of 40 years Liana Holton shared a home in Bloomfield Hills.
Detroit Free Press, September 11, 2016
December 21, 1947 – September 24, 2009
Raised in Highland Park, Leslie Leonelli attended Oakland University and worked in local theater in Rochester and beyond Michigan before moving to New York City in 1973. Following a career off-Broadway, she worked as a massage therapist and helped found the women’s production company Ars Pro Femina. Later in life she operated Pearl’s Rainbow, a renowned resort for women.
Lesbian Connection, January/February 2010
August 12, 1993 – December 26, 2014
Cody Petzold was valedictorian of his class at Holly High School in 2011 and went on to become a student leader and LGBT activist at Oakland University. In addition to studying human resources, he served as the vice president of the campus Gay Straight Alliance and interned with the Chrysler Corporation.
Daily Tribune, December 30, 2014
Oakland Post, January 8, 2015
April 20, 1976 – April 8, 2013
Detroit native Edward Johnson studied dance at Oakland University, Marygrove College, and Wayne State University. His LGBTQ activism included work with the Horizons Project and Men of Color. Johnson also won a number of Detroit area female impersonation titles performing as Tokyo Reign.
Between The Lines, April 18, 2013
June 10, 1952 – August 30, 2007
A native of Mason, Elizabeth Ann Kendall grew up in Mio, received her Bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University, and earned an MBA from Oakland University, enjoying a long career in budget and finance. Her involvement in the Detroit area LGBTQ community included support for Affirmations and the Ruth Ellis Center. She and her partner Torii Hamilton married in Canada in 2003.
Between The Lines, September 13, 2007