Kenneth Andrew, 61
The freelance photographer died Feb. 6 of natural causes.
Ralph Everline, 64
The former Metropolitan Community Church of Philadelphia deacon and barber died April 28 of cardiac arrest.
Arturo Galster, 55
The iconic drag performer died Aug. 25.
David O’Hara, 30
The political consultant died July 28 from a genetic heart condition.
E. Huntington Parker, 72
The costume designer died Feb. 9 of metastatic lung cancer.
Rodney Payne, 46
The longtime Ritz Theatres employee died July 16.
Jesse J. Phillips, 54
The hotel employee died Jan. 6 of throat cancer.
Cherri “Sheddy” Rollins Sanchez, 28
The former Philadelphia Student Union organizer died March 12.
Renee Verker, 65
The forklift driver and founding member of Jewish Lesbian Women died Feb. 10 of a heart attack.
Melina Waldo, 76
The longtime PFLAG official died Oct. 6 of cardiovascular disease.
Janice Weatherford, 63
The chemical salesperson and activist died in April of cancer.
Gloria Casarez, 42
The city’s director of LGBT affairs died Oct. 19, more than five years after being diagnosed with cancer.
Casarez oversaw the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs since 2008, having previously served as executive director of Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative. During her tenure, Philadelphia was named to the top of the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, which rates American cities for their LGBT policies and programs. She played a key role in legislation like the overhaul of the city’s Fair Practices Ordinance, the measure that mandated some city contractors offer domestic-partner benefits and the landmark 2013 LGBT-rights bill, which offered local companies first-in-the-nation tax credits for pro-LGBT policies and instated a number of trans-related city reforms.
Casarez led the establishment of the Mayor’s Advisory Board on LGBT Affairs, was responsible for the raising of the rainbow flag each October outside City Hall and also worked with the Philadelphia School District to launch an LGBT resource guide for city schools. She sat on a number of local boards and served as both a formal and an informal mentor and resource for people across the LGBT and ally communities.
She was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, but never wavered from her work in the last five years.
“She was a complete warrior on every level,” said wife Tricia Dressel.
The day after she died, the city lowered the rainbow flag outside City Hall to half-mast and, a few days later, local business and organizations covered their doors and windows with rainbows as Casarez’s funeral procession moved through the Gayborhood.
David Rosenblum, 47
Mazzoni Center’s legal director died suddenly May 2, two days after suffering a heart attack.
Prior to joining the Mazzoni team in 2011, Rosenblum served as the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer in New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development. He also served as the state’s deputy attorney general and as a trial attorney at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
He was co-founder and co-chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Committee on the Legal Rights of Lesbians and Gay Men. He served on the board of the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia from 1994-2002, chairing the board from 1995-98.
Rosenblum chaired the National LGBT Bar Association’s Lavender Law conference when it was in Philly in 2002 and was a co-founder of the organization’s career fair.
Rosenblum was a founding board member of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights, which went on to become Equality Pennsylvania, whose legal department was transferred to Mazzoni several years ago.
He was also an adjunct professor at Temple University Beasley School of Law, teaching in its sexual orientation and gender-identity law clinical program.
At Mazzoni, Rosenblum was responsible for a number of groundbreaking legal filings, including a case with the EEOC on behalf of a transgender woman, and also led the agency’s advocacy of LGBT-rights issues in the state, such as the proposed voter ID legislation, the removal of gender markers on SEPTA’s transpasses and the Boy Scouts’ discriminatory practices.
“The movement, the LGBT community, lost a great advocate, a wonderful teacher and larger-than-life person,” said Mazzoni Center executive director Nurit Shein.
Rosenblum married longtime partner Stephan Stoeckl in 2013. The National LGBT Bar Association presented an award in Rosenblum’s name to Stoeckl and Rosenblum’s mother at its August conference.
More than 200 people gathered to remember Rosenblum in June at the Prince Music Theater.
Jaci Adams, 56
The pioneering LGBT and HIV/AIDS activist died Feb. 15 from complications of cancer.
Adams spent decades advocating for policy changes, mentoring LGBT young people and using her own diverse experiences to press for social-justice reforms. She was a founding member of the Temple University Community Advisory Board, sat on the planning committee for the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference and the planning committee for the Morris Home, and was the longest-serving member of the Philadelphia Police LGBT Liaison Committee.
She played a key role in LGBT-sensitivity trainings for incoming police officers, using her real-life experiences to communicate the need for LGBT cultural competency.
“She spent a good amount of time and energy working on police issues. Police officers would come up to her and say they would remember her,” said the late Gloria Casarez. “That is important because she would put things out there in a way that was off-putting, maybe different than other sessions these officers would have received. She was clear that it was important that they be presented with scenarios that would happen on the street.”
Adams also volunteered for AIDS Law Project, Delaware Valley Legacy Fund, LGBT Elder Initiative and Philadelphia FIGHT, where she also worked for a time.
In addition to her formalized work, Adams was a constant source of support for the trans community, often working directly with young people to ensure they realized their potential.
“Transwomen looked up to her as a mother figure, an aunt, someone they could learn from,” said Brian Green, director of SafeGuards LGBT Health Resource Center. “She heightened awareness about trans folk, the importance of health and testing for HIV. She had a way of helping you let down your guard so you wanted to hear what she had to say.”
Philly Pride Presents gave Adams the first-ever OutProud Transgender Award at the October 2013 event. The award is now presented annually in Adams’ name.
Jes Metzger, 26
The former ICandy bartender died March 15 in Wichita, Kan., while trying to save several others during a car accident.
The driver of the vehicle in which Metzger was traveling suffered a medical event and was rendered unconscious, and Metzger steered the car out of the way of oncoming traffic, resulting in the one-car crash.
Metzger, a 2006 graduate of Philadelphia Central High School and 2010 graduate of the University of the Arts, moved to Kansas in 2013 after spending two years as an ICandy bartender, one of the first females hired at the club. Metzger spent nine years in the Air Force; she was employed as a KC-135 crew chief at the Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas before she moved to another base in Kansas. She worked as a crew chief and also as a bartender at Our Fantasy Complex.
A large circle of friends and supporters gathered at ICandy the week after her passing to remember Metzger and raise funds to help her family with memorial costs.