BY AJ TRAGER
FERNDALE – Longtime LGBT activist and storeowner, Kevin Rogers, passed away Jan. 4, succumbing to his battle against skin cancer.
Rogers’ life was grand and vibrant. He bought Just 4 Us, a gay giftshop in downtown Ferndale in 2004 and raised countless dollars for numerous groups through ticket sales and fundraisers throughout his years. Rogers leaves behind a 25-year legacy cultivating friendships and giving back to the community.
Ann Heler, board president of FernCare and longtime friend of Rogers, met him in the early ’90s when the two of them partnered with Michael Lary, current director of special events and projects for the City of Ferndale, and other city residents to form Friends and Neighbors of Ferndale, FANS, a small group dedicated to decreasing violence and stigma against gays and lesbians in the city, working with the police dept. to improve acceptance and shaping Ferndale so that gays, lesbians and the community at large knew it was a safe and friendly space.
Rogers became president of FANS, and remained a member of the group for many years before he bought Just 4 Us from longtime friend, Lary.
“It was his second attempt to talk me into it. I was going through a period where I wanted to move on and needed that exit. He convinced me that it was something that he really wanted to do, because he wanted to be connected to the community and be a part of it. So, I accepted his offer,” Lary said.
Rogers was known for welcoming everyone with a smile and a warm heart and spent much of his time caring for others and staying connected with the community. If someone wanted to put up a flyer in Just 4 Us, he’d gladly accept it in the window. If they wanted to promote a benefit or community event, he’d put it up. Everyone who knew him saw him as a wonderfully cheery and genuine person.
“Kevin was a giant hearted person who was so loved by everybody because he was just genuinely nice. We will miss him in Ferndale because he knew everybody and everything going on and he was always happy to share what he knew along with a hug and a smile. It leaves a real void in Ferndale,” Mayor of Ferndale Dave Coulter said. “His family was his customers at the store and he treated them like that.”
Over the past six months, Rogers had undergone brain surgery and multiple other medical procedures in hopes of removing his stage four skin cancer, which had spread throughout his body by the time he sought help for the lesion. However, even with a life threatening condition, Rogers kept his head up and his hopes high.
“I just saw him just before the holidays,” Lary said. “I went into the store to check on him, and he was there, and was in really good spirits. But that’s the kind of guy he is. He’s very happy-hunky-dory. ”
Services will be held at the St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church Jan. 10, located at 21201 E. 13 Mile Rd., St. Clair Shores 48082. A visitation will be held from 9-10 a.m. followed by a Catholic mass.
BY AJ TRAGER