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John Michael Fry dies at 64

Beloved longtime bartender at Mr. Henry’s



John Michael Fry, gay news, Washington Blade
John Michael Fry, gay news, Washington Blade

John Michael Fry

John Michael Fry (“Mike”), for more than three decades the welcoming face of Mr. Henry’s of Capitol Hill, died at his home on T Street, N.W., Wednesday morning, Nov. 25. He was 64.

The cause of death was cancer, according to his friend Tom Faison, a Capitol Hill Realtor, and Rick Hauser, Fry’s long-time housemate. Faison and Hauser were primary care givers during his illness.

Fry spent most of his working life as a waiter, bartender and assistant manager at the iconic Mr. Henry’s, the venue where singer Roberta Flack was introduced to the world in the 1960s. Fry and the restaurant and bar hosted the staffs of the old Washington Evening Star and the Southeast Washington Navy Yard, Capitol Hill real estate agents, members of Congress and their staffs, and employees of the Library of Congress, all just a half-dozen blocks from Henry’s location at Sixth and Pennsylvania Avenue, Southeast.

The gay and lesbian community, of which Fry was part, was a large portion of his clientele, mingling with House members like D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton; tourists, celebrities and entertainers visiting Capitol Hill; journalists and writers like the late Diana McLellan; political operatives and TV commentators, including Donna Brazile of CNN.

“Over all those years, Michael made us soar,” Brazile said on learning of Fry’s death. “He was the music when the jukebox went silent.”

“Michael was like an uncle to my kids,” said Faison, at whose vacation home on Cape May, N.J., “Mikie” was a frequent guest. Fry enjoyed European travel, including several trips with Capitol Hill friends Ann Bradley and Caroline Shook. And he visited his ancestral Ireland with long-time friend Don Blackmon, pursuing his interest in genealogy.

“Many of us anchored our weekends to Michael’s Saturday bar at Henry’s, where he held court,” said Walter Quetsch, a resident of Capitol Hill for six decades. “Michael would always have a favorite taunt for each of us. If a bar regular made a whining comment, he would respond with, ‘Do you think I give a fuck?’”

Fry was a frequent visitor to Quetsch’s summer home on Fire Island’s Cherry Grove.

“On nearly every one of my visits to Henry’s, anyone in earshot would hear Mike ask, ‘Do you remember that time in 1980 when Terry got drunk over there by the window,'” said Terry Michael. “He paired that with, ‘You’re almost 70, you know,’ his favorite way to harass me.” Michael is a former political press secretary who has lived near Mr. Henry’s for four decades.

John Michael Fry was born March 15, 1951 in Kensington, Md., son of Gorman and Dorothy Fry, who preceded him in death. He is survived by two brothers, Chris Fry and Bill Fry, and a sister, Mary Patricia McDonnell, and by a sister-in-law Linda Fry and a brother-in-law Tom McDonnell, all of Maryland, along with many nieces and nephews.

He is also survived by numerous friends, those noted above, plus Ed McManus and Karen Lyon of Capitol Hill, with whom Fry helped promote the Capitol Hill BookFest; Alvin Ross, the retired manager of Mr. Henry’s, with whom Fry worked for more than 30 years; and Library of Congress staffers, led by Ana Lupe Cristan, who dined at Henry’s every Friday for lunch.

Tributes to Michael Fry can be made with donations to the Washington Animal Rescue League, in the name of “Scooter.” Memories can be shared at his Facebook page, “Mike Fry.” Friends are planning a memorial service.



Youngkin vetoes bill that would have expanded Va. bullying definition

Bisexual state Del. Joshua Cole introduced House Bill 536



Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks at a CNN Town Hall on March 9, 2023. (Screen capture via CNN)

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Friday vetoed a bill that would have added sexual orientation, gender identity and expression to the state’s definition of bullying.

Lawmakers earlier this year approved House Bill 536, which bisexual state Del. Joshua Cole (D-Fredericksburg) introduced. 

“While I agree with the general purpose of the legislation, regrettably, the General Assembly did not approve my amendments,” said Youngkin in a statement. “Those recommendations would have expanded the definition of bullying to encompass all possible motives.”

“School administrators must work to prevent bullying and support our students’ mental health through a healthy learning environment, but the narrow definition provided in the legislation could be interpreted to exclude groups not included in the Virginia Human Rights Act, such as bullying victims raised with traditional values or those who are in foster care,” added the Republican.

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Rehoboth Beach

Selling Rehoboth: Lee Ann Wilkinson wins prestigious real estate award

Longtime agent on beach prices, her LGBTQ allyship, and more



Lee Ann Wilkinson doesn’t see real estate prices coming down anytime soon at the beach. (Blade file photo by Daniel Truitt)

Longtime Delaware real estate leader Lee Ann Wilkinson of Berkshire Hathaway recently celebrated a major industry award after being named No. 1 in total sales volume for the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Network. Wilkinson, a Blade contributor, centers much of her work in the coastal communities of Lewes and Rehoboth Beach. We caught up with her to discuss her long career in real estate, her LGBTQ allyship, and more.

Washington Blade: I learned your parents were in real estate, and you began working with them early on in your career. Did you initially intend to follow in their footsteps? 

Lee Ann Wilkinson: Not really. I majored in art. When I got out of college I couldn’t really find a job. So, my parents said, “You need to come work for us.”

Blade: I understand that as an art history major turned writer. Speaking of that: I know you have written some pieces for the Blade, about real estate trends, and the like. How do you pick your topics for these articles? 

Wilkinson:  People always want to know about real estate. Whether buying a first home, second home, a home to invest or retire in. It amazes even me how much interest there is. And it’s not just people looking to buy a $7 million home on beachfront property. It’s people looking to get something in budget for their family.

Blade: I know you have a lot of work in Rehoboth, the Delaware Valley’s historically gay beachside community. Was there ever a time you were NOT selling property to – I guess it was fair to say 40 years ago – mostly gay men? 

Wilkinson: Ha, I grew up coming down for the summer until my family moved here full-time from Norristown, outside of Philly. We had businesses and family in Rehoboth. I think Rehoboth has always been gay-friendly. We never thought about it. My grandfather had a house in Rehoboth before I was born. The gay population was always welcome.

Blade: Do you have a connection to the LGBTQ community beyond real estate? 

Wilkinson: Absolutely. One of my closest friends is a guy I went to college with at the University of Delaware, Joey. You know, Joey was maybe my first gay friend. In fact, we all went to the Easter Sunrise Service on the beach in Rehoboth. We have gay family members, so I have never thought that much about it being anything different.

Blade: I know you recently won a prestigious award with Berkshire Hathaway and were surprised to come in first place. Why?

Wilkinson: For the past 20 years or so we have been in the top 10. We started doing these national things with Berkshire Hathaway. To get in the top 10 was amazing to me especially going up against states like Florida, New Jersey, not to mention San Francisco or Bay Area agents. I just never thought we’d get to the number one spot. My only issue is — where to go now?

Blade: Where do you make your primary residence? Is that Lewes? Do you see the president on occasion? 

Wilkinson: I haven’t seen him at the beach. But he’s on the bike trail a lot. He pops up having breakfast. He goes to Mass at St. Edmond’s in Rehoboth on Saturday evening. But I’m often too busy with work on weekends to catch sight of him.

Blade: Having been in the industry 40 years, how do you find ways to get excited about your work? 

Wilkinson: I really am passionate about it. I really love a challenge. That’s part of the appeal for this job. I always like matching people with things. I really liked getting people the right bathing suits years ago. Selling, it’s just something I’m good at. I would get customers walking outta’ the store with three or four bathing suits when they only wanted one. 

Blade: Are you considering retiring in the next few years? Or will you always be associated with the industry on some level. Maybe as a mentor or silent partner? 

Wilkinson: Oh, no, I’ll always be involved. Three of my four daughters work for me. I am not retiring anytime soon. And if I did, they would be here to continue it on, and I am sure I’d weigh in.

Blade: So, this is very much a family legacy?

Wilkinson: Yeah. My parents are 87 and 91 now. Some 20 years ago mom predicted we’d see an increase in prices, people moving here, etc. I don’t know how she predicted it but mom is right.

Blade: Any current trends you’re noticing? 

Wilkinson: This cycle of people moving here, and prices increasing, and all the building happening. People think the prices are going to come down, but I don’t see that happening.

Blade: Tell me about that. Are the new building ventures changing the faces of Rehoboth and Lewes? After not visiting the Jersey Shore for over a decade I’ve been going the past few summers to my cousin’s place in Cape May. It’s a trailer on a nicely maintained campground and it’s what she can afford. And, there’s so much building happening there.

Wilkinson: Right? It’s about finding a second home you can afford. And, in terms of building projects, the good thing about Rehoboth and Lewes is they are strict on what you can and can’t build downtown. They aren’t going to tear down homes to build multi-family condos, not yet anyway. In Spring Lake, you are seeing townhomes. So, building is happening and we have some condos, but it’s great to not see “overbuilding” happening in these historically smaller cities.

To learn more about Ms. Wilkinson, or property in Sussex County, DE be sure to look for articles she publishes in the Blade and visit the Lee Ann Wilkinson Group website.

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Blum named director of new LGBTQ program at Carr Center

Program to expand research, training on safeguarding human rights



Diego Garcia Blum

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected].

Congratulations to Diego Garcia Blum on his new position as director, Global LGBTQI+ Human Rights Program, at the Harvard, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. This new program will expand research and training on safeguarding the human rights of LGBTQI+ people worldwide. It will address the escalating crisis of violence and discrimination against LGBTQI+ individuals globally. The vision is to establish the Carr Center as a key international nexus for LGBTQI+ human rights policy, training, ideas, and dialogue

 “The heart of this program is empowering and supporting the brave LGBTQI+ activists working in challenging and often perilous environments,” Garcia Blum said. “Through our training and high-impact research, we aim to supercharge their efforts.”

Prior to this, he has had a varied and impressive career. Recently he served as a Social Change Fellow at Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership. He worked with the Human Rights Campaign, serving on its Board of Governors. Prior to that, he worked as a nuclear engineer at Orano, a French company. It is described as a global leader in nuclear fuel cycle products and services, from mining to dismantling, conversion, enrichment, recycling, logistics and engineering. He has won many awards for his work and education. The Innovation CORE award at Orano; The Dean Joseph Weil Leadership Award, University of Florida; Most Outstanding Master in Public Policy Student – Ellen Raphael Award, Harvard Kennedy School. 

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