By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
DETROIT – On March 9, 2005, successful interior designer, philanthropist and LGBT community leader Brian Killian died in a fire in his Birmingham home.
On March 9, 2006, friends and associates of Killian’s established a scholarship in his name.
Jennifer Xenos, who said she worked for Killian for 13 years, said that the idea for the scholarship grew when Killian’s business associates donated his library of decoration samples to Wayne State University’s Department of Art and Art History.
During a March 9 memorial event for Killian, his friends, clients and business associates donated $21,000 of the $25,000 needed to fully endow the scholarship.
“Here were a bunch of people who lost this man, and here was an opportunity to contribute to something that would make his name live on and on and on,” said Xenos. “And he was a very generous guy – it seemed to be the least we could do for him [because] most of us were beneficiaries of his kindness.”
“I was amazed by it, and I just really think this is something fantastic that was happening for our students,” said Stephen Douglas Kram, a Wayne State staffer who has been put in charge of the scholarship. “We’re just really close to the $25,000 and I really want to see it happen.”
Killian was a long-time volunteer with the Human Rights Campaign, and co-chaired the organization’s 1993 Michigan dinner event. In addition, he was a supporter of numerous charities including the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, the Judson Center, and Seeds of Peace.
“I think it’s a wonderful gesture,” said Jeff Montgomery, executive director of Triangle Foundation. “Obviously they know that Brian would be very pleased to know this happened. He was always very encouraging to talented young people. It’s also a very important way to keep his name alive in the community because he was such a generous person, an immense talent and a mentor to many people.”
If the committee raising funds for the Brian Killian & Company Endowed Scholarship is successful in raising $25,000, scholarships of an as-yet undetermined amount will go to WSU interior design students beginning with the 2007-08 academic year.