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PASSAGES Local LGBT passages in 2017
by Matt Simonette
2018-01-03

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Chicagoan Richard W. Burke died peacefully at his home on Jan. 17 from complications due to multiple system atrophy. He was 66.

Olga "Augie" Flanigan, of Augie & C.K.'s Bar, passed away unexpectedly Feb. 5. The bar, an important part of lesbian life for years, was located at 3726 N. Broadway.

Yvonne Hudson, a co-founder in 1965 of the Black women's group Sons of Sappho, at the time one of the only organizations for gay women on the South Side, died in February. She was 80.

Fernando Ponce Jr.—or "Junior," as his family and friends called him—died on March 9 of complications resulting from leukemia. He was 19.

Longtime Touche bartender Alan H. Portnoff passed away on March 10 after a prolonged battle following heart surgery. He was 66.

Joseph W. Sikorovsky, a 20-year Lake View resident, passed away March 12. He was 60.

John Cepek—an LGBT ally, through the group PFLAG, formerly known as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, who suffered a brain injury Feb. 27 while traveling with his wife Char—died March 15 at age 69.

Chuck Hyde, 55, a longtime general manager of Sidetrack bar in Chicago, passed away April 6 in Florida of heart disease.

Mel Wilson, 74, one of the co-founders of the Oak Park Lesbian and Gay Association, died in April after a years-long battle with severe pulmonary disease. He was among the most important LGBTQ activists in Oak Park history, having helped make that west suburban village among the most progressive in the state.

Flavio Acosta, who among other accomplishments, a deacon at Good Shepherd Parish Metropolitan Community Church, passed away May 21 in Aurora, Illinois. He was 86.

Jerry Dean Bowman, 62, of Springfield, died June 3. Bowman was a leader and pioneer in the statewide efforts to secure marriage equality.

Chuck Renslow, 87, died in June after multiple long-term health issues. Renslow reigned over a seven-decade empire, starting more than two dozen businesses—bars, discos, photo studios, health clubs, bathhouses, gay magazines and newspapers, hotels, restaurants and bookstores. He fostered organizations and dealt with Mafia and police payoffs, the Chicago Machine, anti-gay government policies, and controversy within the gay community.

Leather activist Daddy Orchid ( Drea ) passed away in 2017. Daddy Orchid was a scholar, teacher, published author, and community patron whose quiet support and keen wisdom has at various times undergirded the lives and work of individuals and groups in the many outposts of the Leather world that she touched.

Jeremy Begy, an original member of the Chicago Dragons gay rugby team, passed away at his North Side residence on July 18. He was 41.

Thomas Spencer Duffield Bowyer, 83, "Spence" or "Bow," passed away peacefully on Aug. 4 in Chicago.

John Charles Power, 74, died Aug. 23. Power was active in Chicago gay rights and social service organizations, among other accomplishments in advancing LGBT equality.

Donald Dennis Virgil Jr., "Donnie," 51, a longtime Lake View resident, server and bartender, most recently at Second Story Bar, passed away unexpectedly Sept. 5.

David Wilshire—who, at one point, owned Chicago's Cheetah Gym—passed away in California, where he had been living for several years, on Sept. 5.

Scott Barnes died Sept. 9 while at the Out at the Park Six Flags Great America event in the Chicago suburbs. He was 50. Barnes was the web content specialist and SEO editor for the American Medical Association ( AMA ) and a renowned professional photographer.

Longtime North End manager and bartender George Nichols passed away Sept. 12. He was remembered by friends and loved ones as someone who could put people at ease and had "the gift of gab."

Karen Knudstrup passed away Sept. 16 at age 78. Knudstrup was a Chicago Symphony chorister and an opera singer with Lyric Opera of Chicago as well as a teacher at Phillips and Marshall High Schools and Kenwood Academy.

Pastor Megan Jane Jones, 49, co-director of the Naming Project—whose mission is to create places of safety for youth of all sexual orientations and gender identities where faith is shared and healthy life-giving community is modeled—passed away unexpectedly Sept. 19.

Chicagoan William "Bill" Gutrich, 67, passed away Sept. 29 at his home after a short fight against cancer.

Russell "Russ" Pryga, 52, died Sept. 30; he was 52. He spent many hours volunteering at "GroceryLand," a food pantry for those with HIV/AIDS, and other charitable organizations to ensure he helped make a difference to those in need.

Scott Reichelsdorf died Oct. 24 from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease ( COPD ). He was 57. Reichelsdorf was the event planner at J&L Catering, where he produced several galas and events.

Darlene R. Stille, 75, died Oct. 28 of colon cancer in New Buffalo, Michigan. She and her partner of 40 years, Cynthia Marquard, lived together in Chicago for many years and were instrumental parts of the LGBT business, philanthropic and advocacy communities.

Donalou Hendon, 46, died Nov. 10. Hendon was the co-owner of Forest View Lounge Bar and Grill in Forest View, Illinois with her life partner of 16 years, Marge Bellisario.

Kelsey Murphy Miles, 26, cherished daughter of Kay Miles and Deb Murphy, passed away unexpectedly Nov. 12, 2017, in Los Angeles. She and her mothers were part of a precedent-setting case in Illinois adoption history. In 1995, the family, joined by another family, helped win the right of unmarried couples to have the same adoption rights as single parents and heterosexual married couples.

Martin "Marty" Enright, 85, died Nov. 29 of pancreatic cancer. Enright, along with his partner George Brophy, co-owned iconic western casual-themed Buddies' Restaurant & Bar in on Clark Street in Lake View.

World War II veteran Ed Zasadil died peacefully at home on Dec. 8 at the age of 93. Zasadil enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943 at the age of 18 and served with the U.S. Army Band during his two years. He was a long time member and past treasurer of the Chicago Chapter of the American Veterans for Equal Rights ( AVER ).


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