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

Tony Brown

Tony Brown pic 3

February 15, 1958 – February 20, 2015

Antony Eugene “Tony” Brown of Madison Heights was born in England and graduated from Dondero High School in Royal Oak.  He later studied voice at Michigan State University and in the early 1980s was a noted singer at Detroit gay bars.  Brown served on the board of the Performers Awards of Detroit and received multiple PAD honors, including best go-go boy and Male Entertainer of the Year.

No known obituary

Jim Stone

Jim Stone pic

May 10, 1965 – March 4, 2020

A noted figure in Detroit’s electronic music scene, James Joseph Stone Jr. was born in Royal Oak and graduated from Seaholm High School in Birmingham in 1984.  He attended Eastern Michigan University and came out as a young gay man on the dance floors of Todd’s and Heaven.  A musician and DJ, Stone became an important distributor and promoter of house and techno throughout the metro area.

Potere-Modetz Funeral Home

The Advocate: Jim Stone, 1965-2020

Harold McCormick

Harold McCormick pic

January 4, 1934 – May 9, 1999

Civil rights activist Harold McCormick was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and served in the U.S. Army from 1956 to 1962.  After moving to Metro Detroit, he was engaged in social work and became CEO of Quality Human Services.  McCormick led a largely closeted life until he was found murdered in his Royal Oak Township apartment, the victim of a man he met at an adult book store.

Detroit Free Press, May 13, 1999

Between The Lines, June 10, 1999

Between The Lines, July 1, 1999

Ellen Rogowski

Ellen Rogowski pic

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

Carol Newberg

Carol Newberg pic

December 13, 1957 – May 9, 2000

The owner and operator of Boomers Deli, Carol Jane Newberg was a 1976 graduate of Dearborn High School and went on to become one of Royal Oak’s most beloved business women.  Through the last year and a half of her life, as she battled cancer, Newberg was cared for by her close-knit circle of friends.  She was survived by her partner Gail Green.

Between The Lines, May 18, 2000

Eulogy for Carol Newberg

Zan Alley

Zan Alley pic

January 9, 1940 – July 12, 2019

Farmington Hills resident Zan Alley attended high school and college in Birmingham, Alabama before moving to Michigan where she taught high school in Royal Oak for 17 years.  She later worked as a director with the Michigan Education Association, negotiating more than three dozen union contracts.  Alley was survived by her partner and wife Murphy Ayers.

Detroit Free Press, July 21, 2019

Diane Kotila

Diane Kotila pic

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

Andrea Still Gray

Andrea Still Gray pic

October 15, 1971 – December 29, 2015

Andrea Elizabeth Still Gray grew up in Royal Oak and earned her B.A. in cultural anthropology from Wayne State University and later received her Masters in Library and Information Science from Simmons College in Boston.  Her career included working for a communications firm and as an archivist at Harvard and a librarian for the Massachusetts State House.  She and her spouse Julie Gray were married in 2009.

Detroit News, January 10, 2016

Remembering Andrea Still Gray

Oliver Sipple

Oliver Sipple pic

November 20, 1941 – February 2, 1989

Oliver Wellington Sipple was born in Detroit, grew up in Royal Oak, and served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1967 to 1970, including a tour-of-duty in Vietnam.  After leaving the military, he moved to San Francisco, where he could live a more open gay life.  On September 22, 1975, Sipple made headlines and history when he prevented an attempted assassin from shooting President Gerald Ford.

New York Times, February 4, 1989

Radiolab story on Oliver Sipple