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PASSAGES 2016: Local LGBTs
by Matt Simonette
2017-01-04

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Jay Michael—a gay developer who was part of the Chicago-based reality show 100 Days of Summer—died in January after battling cancer. He was 34. Michael was the co-founder and chief operating officer of FLATS Chicago and was a founding partner as well as chief marketing and innovation officer of CEDARst, a diversified holding company.

Sheila Healy of Wheeling died Jan. 10. She was 56. She spent much of her adult life working with social justice organizations, primarily focused on LGBT issues.

Gregory Allan De Leon, R.N., M.S.N—a Chicago nurse practitioner who fought for social justice as a Freedom Rider in the 1960s and as an AIDS- and gay-rights activist—passed away Jan. 13. She was founder of the first 4A group ( Alcoholics Anonymous AIDS Awareness ), cofounder of Howard Brown's first offsite HIV clinic and a former head of programs and board member at Test Positive Aware Network.

Roger Paul Sportsman passed away Feb. 17. He was 64.

Edward A. "Ed" Hagger passed away in Racine, Wisconsin, on Feb. 25. A retired operations manager with AT&T, Hagger lived in Chicago for several years before relocating to Racine.

Open Door Health Center Executive Director David Roesler passed away in March. Roesler had headed Open Door since 2000.

George Grivas—owner of the suburban lesbian Temptations—died in March. Grivas also owned Hideaway in Forest Park.

The Rev. Canon Miller M. Cragon Jr. died March 19. He was 91. In 1978, he was appointed by Bishop James W. Montgomery to serve as canon to the ordinary for education and ministry for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. Upon his retirement in 1990, he was made an honorary canon at St. James Episcopal Cathedral.

Floyd Edwin "Butch" Roose, a retired flight attendant, died March 20.

Jose Antonio Casco—owner of Antronio's in Berwyn, Illinois—died April 3 from complications following a head injury incurred at home. He was 59.

Rev. John Wesley Jenkins, 73, died April 21. Jenkins served in local United Methodist Church appointments and was then appointed to serve as director of day treatment at Garfield Park and Lawndale Mental Health Centers of Chicago's West Side. Following that, he became director of the psycho-social rehabilitation services at Community Counseling Centers of Chicago.'

Adrienne J. Goodman, who was inducted as a friend of the community into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1994, passed away April 25 from natural causes. She was 67. Goodman was active in Democratic politics and chaired the 1975 campaign of campaign of Grant L. Ford, who was openly gay, to be 44th Ward alderman. She was also elected state central democratic committeewoman for the 9th District in 1986.

Richard Lamont Pope, a retired editor at Encyclopedia Britannica and former English professor, passed away May 28. He was 85.

William A. Ayer, Jr. D.D.S., Ph.D, passed away May 31 after a long struggle with COPD. He was 74. He played a key role in preparing Northwestern University Dental School students to treat patients living with HIV/AIDS.

Alan Schubert—one of the founders of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida—died June 1 at age 70 of cancer, just months after moving to Chicago.

Mary Powers, 93, long-time activist and LGBT ally, died June 25 at Evanston Hospital following a short illness.

Marti "Martha" Rust of Oregon, Illinois, died June 21.

Abner Mikva, a liberal fixture in Chicago politics who maintained posts in all three branches of government, died July 4. He was 90. Mikva made a number of contributions in the advancements of LGBT rights, especially in his work as a legislator and in the judiciary, often long before those contributions reflected popular opinion.

Vernon Huls, 67, a longtime Chicago-area LGBTQ activist and accountant, died July 21 at Northwestern Hospital of heart failure.

Michael John Leahy died July 27. He was 48. He worked in manufacturer sales, and was involved in the Chicago AIDS Ride, TPAN and Chicago House.

Furniture designer and former model Melvin "Mel" Platzke III, 48, died July 29.

Landscaper and activist Mbiganyi Lashani was shot and killed July 29.

Wesley Harold Klug—a fine artist and painter known for sold-out openings— passed away Aug. 19. He was 88.

Robert Allen Toyra, a longtime AT&T employee, died on Aug. 20. He was 59.

Bob Rybicki, director of operations, finance and personnel at Church Divinity School of the Pacific and assisting clergy at Grace Cathedral, died at Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco Sept. 3. He was 65. In Chicago, Rybicki was active in the fight against AIDS during the early years of the epidemic.

Miguel Angel Sanchez Pimentel—a native of Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico who arrived in the United States from Mexico in 1978 and was a longtime employee of Pizzeria Uno—passed away Sept. 5. He was 60.

Karen Beth Teplitzky—a former New Jersey resident who had lived in Lake Zurich, since 2009—died Sept. 10. She was 47.

Karen Beth Teplitzky—a former New Jersey resident who had lived in Lake Zurich, Illinois, since 2009—died Sept. 10 at JourneyCare in Barrington, Illinois. She was 47.

A West Side transgender woman, T.T. Saffore, was found murdered in Chicago's West Garfield Park neighborhood the evening of Sept. 11, 2016. Saffore's death made her the 20th known U.S. transgender individual killed in 2016.

Peter P. Thomas, who was for many years active in Chicago's leather community, died at home in Chicago on Sept. 12. He was 80.

Small business owner and disabilities-rights activist Gene Davis, a beloved community figure, died at the age of 62 in September.

Benjamin Allen, owner of the Boystown nightspots Lucky Horseshoe Lounge and The North End, passed away Sept. 13 from a heart attack after a long battle with kidney disease. He was 69.

Lesbian activist Marie J. Kuda died in September at age 76 after complications from multiple illnesses, including heart disease. Kuda was inducted into the first class of Chicago's LGBT Hall of Fame in 1991. She began her activism on gay rights in the mid-1960s and continued to work on LGBT rights in the areas of politics, literature and history for the rest of her life.

Social worker Jason McVicker died Oct. 13 of a heart attack. He was 54.

Joe M. Nguyen—who was born and raised in Vietnam and had lived in Chicago since 1988, working as a graphic designer—passed away Oct. 16. He was 48.

Fashion designer, poet and performer Neysa Scott passed away Oct. 16. She was 51.

Larry William Wilson, of Chicago and Bourbonnais, passed away Oct. 18. He was 70.

Writer and LGBT advocate Bliss "Frontierre" Frings, passed away in her home in Bisbee, Arizona, on Oct. 23. She was 55. Frings was active in LGBT causes in Chicago, where she lived until 1998.

Rev. Gregory Dell, formerly of Lake View's Broadway United Methodist Church, passed away in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Oct. 30. He was 70 years old.

Derek Radford, who worked for several years at Pingpong Restaurant in Lake View, passed away Nov. 20 in Orlando, Florida. He was 32.

Fran "Toots" Hairston, the mother of activist Vernita Gray, died Nov. 24, 2016.

Sue Purrington, a longtime activist in Chicago progressive politics, and an aide to Ald. Leslie Hairston, passed away after a brief illness Nov. 28. She was 78. A native of Athens, Oh

Activist Nancy Reiff passed away Nov. 30. Reiff was also a nightclub owner as well as the first lesbian appointed to Mayor Richard M. Daley's staff.

Jimmy Bissonnette, 58, died Dec. 1 of brain injuries after falling down a flight of stairs at his home. Bissonnette was a receptionist at Center on Halsted and was previously the general manager at Buck's Saloon and a bartender at Little Jim's.

Robert Brumbaugh, owner of Progress Bar and minibar in Lake View, as well as Phoenix Bar and Nightclub in Elk Grove Village, passed away in early December.

Arlo Andrade-Janzen, the son of activist Eva Janzen Powell, died in Denver on Dec. 7. He was born with HIV in 1986 and had spent many years with his family in the Chicago area.

Cameron Joseph Campbell—a librarian, devout Buddhist, collector of East Asian art and former Jesuit Priest—passed away peacefully at his home in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood on Dec. 10. He was 70.

Dr. Brent E. Smith, of Bolingbrook, passed away Dec. 17. He was 55.

John Joseph Manzella, a retired beautician who lived in Lake View, passed away on Dec. 17. He was 74.


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