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Prominent D.C. Realtor, avid traveler Kurt Rieschick dies at 50

McWilliams Ballard executive was longtime city resident

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Longtime D.C. resident Kurt Rieschick, who served as a vice president for the local real estate company McWilliams Ballard and who along with his husband traveled extensively to international destinations, including their favorite city of Paris, died at home on Jan. 16 of a heart attack. He was 50.

David Klimas, his husband and partner of 22 years, and Rieschick’s sister, Jacqueline Costell, said Rieschick appeared to be in excellent health and had no advanced signs of heart disease other than the fact that his father died of a heart attack at the age of 52 in 1998.

Klimas’s posting of the news of his husband’s passing on Facebook drew an immediate outpouring of messages of sympathy and admiration for Rieschick from dozens of people who knew him, including many friends and business associates.

“Today is my saddest day,” Klimas wrote in his Facebook post. “My beloved. My person. My number one. My best friend. My husband died early this morning from a massive heart attack,” Klimas wrote. “I will never be the same. I will never forget him. He was my life.”

Klimas said he and Rieschick had vowed to get married as soon as same-sex marriage became legal, and he said the couple did so when D.C.’s same-sex marriage law took effect in 2010. 

Rieschick was raised in Columbia, Md. His sister said he graduated from Columbia’s Hammond High School in 1988 shortly before he attended Drexel University in Philadelphia, where he received a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Prior to beginning his real estate career with McWilliams Ballard, Rieschick worked from 1996 to 2000 as a product training manager for the Bureau of National Affairs or BNA, the then D.C.-based company that published newsletters and research reports on business, government, and academic related topics.

Rieschick traveled throughout the U.S. selling and teaching BNA subscribers about various BNA electronic publications and services as part of his responsibilities with the company, his LinkedIn page says.

He began his affiliation with McWilliams Ballard in 2000, according to a career summary of Rieschick’s tenure with the real estate company published on its website. The write-up says Rieschick had experience “across most real estate product lines, selling condominiums, lofts, townhouses, and unique style row homes.”

It says Rieschick, who had the title of vice president, managed “all aspects of the sales process from hands-on sales, marketing, broker outreach, sales reporting” and other aspects of the sales process. The write-up says he sold properties in the price range of $200,000 to over $2.5 million.

Klimas, who also works as a vice president for McWilliams Ballard, said that at the time of his passing Rieschick was acting as the lead sales agent for a new high-rise condominium apartment project near the Washington Nationals baseball stadium called Kennedy on L at 37 L St., S.E.

“We did everything together,” Klimas told the Washington Blade. “We worked together at the same company for the last 21 years. We traveled together. We did French lessons. We went traveling throughout the world,” said Klimas, who noted that Rieschick was especially fond of traveling to Paris and France after the two became fluent in French.

According to Klimas, his husband was a “huge” fan of Madonna.

“We saw Madonna around the world,” Klimas said. “We followed her concerts, every last one of them. And we saw her in Paris, Amsterdam, London, and Miami. We loved to travel. We traveled extensively,” he said in recounting Rieschick’s love for travel and for attending Madonna concerts.

Costell said she and her family, including her and Kurt’s parents, were supportive of his being gay and she, her husband, and her two kids welcomed Klimas as part of the family.

“I personally became a huge advocate for gay rights,” she said. “And then when I got married and had children, I wanted my kids to grow up with that love that I gave to my brother and all of his friends,” she said.

Costell selected her brother and Klimas to be godfathers to both of her children. At her request, the two attended and participated in her daughter’s and son’s baptismal ceremonies on separate occasions at a Catholic church in Baltimore with the full approval of the priest in charge, Costell said. The two kids were about three months old at the time of their respective baptisms in 2005 and 2007, with her brother and Klimas holding the two babies during part of the ceremony.

As a dedicated uncle, Rieschick, with his partner and husband, Klimas, at his side, stopped by her home nearly every holiday, she said. “I mean every Christmas, every single birthday, Easter – every holiday,” she said, that Rieschick and Klimas came over for a visit.

Costell said her brother’s untimely death has prompted her to consider taking action to encourage all public buildings and residential apartment buildings to have on hand a defibrillator, a medical device used to administer an electric shock to the heart to resuscitate someone whose heart stops from a heart attack.

Klimas told the Blade he attempted to resuscitate Rieschick after calling 911. He said emergency medical workers arrived in about 10 minutes of his call, but they were unable to save his husband’s life.

He and Costell said a highly restricted funeral viewing was tentatively scheduled for Jan. 22 or Jan. 23 at a Northwest D.C. funeral home. Costell said the downtown D.C. lockdown related to the presidential inauguration had as of Tuesday prevented her brother’s body from being transported from the D.C. Medical Examiner’s office to the funeral home.

Meanwhile, due to COVID-related restrictions, the funeral home has said it would not allow more than eight people to attend the viewing, which was to take place before Rieschick was to be cremated.

Klimas said he is planning a “huge” celebration of Rieschick’s life sometime this summer, with the hope that the COVID vaccine distribution will have lessened the epidemic to the point where a large in-person gathering can be held.

“It’s going to be a MadonnaRama party and it will be held at Number 9,” said Klimas in referring to the D.C. gay bar on P Street, N.W. near Logan Circle. Klimas said Number 9 co-owner John Guggenmos, a friend of his and Rieschick’s, has agreed to stage the MadonnaRama event like the ones Guggenmos has put on at his clubs in the past. Among other things, it includes playing audio and video recordings of Madonna’s performances, Klimas said.

“I’m going to have it catered and have a free bar and hire people to sing,” Klimas said. “It’s going to be a huge party for everybody in honor of Kurt.” 

Klimas and Costell, who said her family will participate in the memorial celebration, said they will announce the date and location for the event as soon as they determine it can be arranged.

Rieschick is survived by his husband, David Klimas; his mother, Carol Stvan; his sister, Jacqueline Costell; his niece and nephew, Carlin and Jackson; his father-in-law, James Klimas Sr.; his brother-in-law, Jimmy; and many friends in the D.C. area. He was preceded in death by his father, Kurt Walter Rieschick Sr.; and his mother-in-law, Gilda Klimas.

In lieu of flowers, which the funeral home will not accept due to COVID restrictions, Klimas and Costell are inviting friends and others who knew Rieschick to contribute in Rieschick’s name to the American Heart Association and Raising Malawi, a charitable organization founded by Madonna in 2006 to help orphan children and others facing severe poverty in the African nation of Malawi.

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Comings & Goings

Roane named COO of Lambda Legal

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John Roane

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 John Roane appointed Lambda Legal’s Chief Operating Officer. On his appointment he said, “I’m delighted and honored to join Lambda Legal and its dedicated team of lawyers, paralegals, and support staff at this critical time in our movement. The forces that oppose our civil rights are organized and formidable, and Lambda Legal is our last line of defense.”

Prior to joining Lambda Legal, Roane was Vice President and COO at AIDS UNITED, Inc. He has also served in that role for the Association of American Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine and with the Association of American Veterinary Colleges. He was Associate Director, Program Support Services with the DC Association of American Medical Colleges.  

In his volunteer capacity, Roane was past chair of the board of directors, Finance and Administration Roundtable (FAR); former board secretary, Us Helping Us; and active with the Society of Human Resource Management, American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Food and Friends, and Dog World Rescue. He has also volunteered with CAMP Rehoboth. 

Jimmy Rock

Congratulations also to Jimmy Rock for being named a partner at Edelson PC, opening the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. Rock said, “I’m thrilled to be joining this team helping to redefine what it means to be part of the plaintiffs’ bar.” His work focuses on consumer protection and environmental cases. He is also the lead for the firm’s Public Client Litigation. 

Prior to joining Edelson PC, he was with the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia where he helped to start OAG’s Office of Consumer Protection. He also served five years as an Assistant Deputy Attorney General managing OAG’s Public Advocacy Division. Rock received the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award for Trial of Affirmative Litigation in 2015. He has served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center; and as faculty at the National Attorneys General Training Institute’s “Trial of a Complex Consumer Case.” He has presented at numerous conferences. 

Torey Carter-Conneen

Congratulations to Torey Carter-Conneen honored with a Business of Pride award from the Washington Business Journal. On accepting the award, he said, “I am humbled and honored to receive this recognition and be among an accomplished group of fellow leaders, and especially as we celebrate Pride.”

He is currently CEO of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Prior to joining ASLA, he served as COO of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and previously he was the Senior Vice President and CFO for the Center for American Progress, COO and later acting president and CEO at the LGBTQ Victory Fund and Institute. 

Outside of work, Carter-Conneen sits on the executive committee of the board for Shepherd’s Table in Silver Spring, Md., and serves on the board of the American Immigration Council. He and his husband Mike are fathers to two children, Drew and Aiden.

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Rehoboth Beach

A busy July 4 weekend in Rehoboth Beach

Del Shores, Lady Bunny, Pamala Stanley and more set to entertain

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Magnolia Applebottom, who performs regularly at Diego’s, is among Rehoboth’s drag stars set to take the stage over the July 4 holiday weekend and beyond. (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

As July 4 approaches, another Rehoboth Beach summer is abuzz with possibilities for in-person fun ranging from dinner downtown to live performances featuring local artists.

For starters, stop for dinner at Red, White & Basil. This brand-new restaurant was scheduled open its doors to the Rehoboth community on June 29 after making the move from D.C. to Route 1, where it can be found south of Coldwell Banker and just north of Big Fish. Mark Hunker and Jeff McCracken of Eden and JAM Bistro and Coho’s Market & Grill are behind the new venture.

Diego’s Bar & Nightclub (37298 Rehoboth Ave. Ext.) is entering the July 4 weekend strong. Kick off the new month with a happy hour Friday from 4-8 p.m. On Saturday, don’t miss a Splash Party from 5-7 p.m. or an Independance Party with DJ Steven J from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. all at the same venue.

Come back to the bar on Sunday from 4-8 p.m. for a happy hour followed by a 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Studio 54 Party with DJ Jeff Harrison. Round out your weekend at Diego’s with the show-stopping DJ during the bar’s July 4 Independence Day Dance from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Witness the wonder of local legends Kristina Kelly and Mona Lotts as they perform in a special July 4 drag brunch at The Pines, with doors opening at 56 Baltimore Ave. at 11:15 a.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online. Come back that evening for the Flaming Pianos show featuring local favorites John Flynn and Matthew Kenworthy from 6-9 p.m.

Also at the Pines is Furst Friday happy hour with the Rehoboth Beach Bears on July 1 from 6-8 p.m. That same night, the legendary Del Shores performs “The Tea is Spilled” at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. 

Across the street at Aqua, don’t miss FireWerk with DJ Chord on Friday at 9 p.m.

The Blue Moon (35 Baltimore Ave.) has a robust lineup of entertainment planned, including Show Tunes Sunday on July 3 and Lady Bunny performing on July 4 from 9:30-11 p.m. Tickets are $44. Also at the Moon, don’t miss the talented New York City pianist Nate Buccieri, Monday-Thursday, 6-8:30 p.m.

Freddie’s Beach Bar continues its first summer season with karaoke on Thursdays and Sundays at 8 p.m., Drag Follies show Fridays at 9 p.m., and a DJ dance party on Saturdays at 8 p.m. Freddie’s also hosts the beloved Pamala Stanley on Sunday, July 3 from 6-9 p.m.

Stick around until Friday, July 8 and you can watch local drag star Magnolia Applebottom grace the stage of the Milton Theatre, located at 110 Union St. in Milton, Del. Doors open at 7 p.m., and tickets can be purchased for $20 online.

As visitors from far and wide eagerly await a Rehoboth Beach summer with fewer restrictions, these events will be sure to make everyone’s Independence Day this year is nothing short of spectacular.

Magnolia Applebottom (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)
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Maryland

Gay, lesbian incumbents, candidates on Md. county ballots

State’s primary is on July 19

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From left: Prince George's County Public Schools Board of Education member Pamela Boozer-Strother, Montgomery County Circuit Court Clerk Karen Bushell, Prince George's County Council candidate Krystal Oriadha (Courtesy photos)

The Washington Blade this week spoke with five openly gay and lesbian candidates who are either running for office or are seeking re-election in Montgomery, Prince George’s and Howard Counties.

Montgomery County Councilman Evan Glass

Montgomery County Councilman Evan Glass. (Photo courtesy of Evan Glass)

Evan Glass serves as the vice president of the Montgomery County Council and as its first openly LGBTQ member. Previously working for 12 years as a CNN journalist, he was first elected in 2018.

Glass told the Blade that running to continue as a member of the Council was rooted in the change that has been able to be made thus far.

“When I first raised the Pride flag in an official manner in 2019, I received a lot of pushback and hate,” Glass said. “But we persisted and have continued expanding Pride events and celebrating our beautiful diversity.”

Since his election, Glass’ initiatives in Montgomery County have included a host of local legislation aimed at promoting and furthering social justice and LGBTQ equality in the county. 

Along with measures, such as the county’s Housing Justice Act and Oversight and Small Business Investment Act, Glass’ efforts led to the Council to pass its Pay Equity Act designed close the gender wage gap by modifying how the county determines salaries for employees. He also worked to spearhead the passage of the county’s LGBTQ Bill of Rights, which expanded its anti-discrimination code to include gender expression and HIV status and ban discrimination in areas such as healthcare facilities, nursing homes and personal care facilities.

As he makes his bid for reelection later this summer, Glass said that he hopes to expand on the accomplishments he has been able to make so far.

“I’m proud of my work to create more affordable housing, to make our buses free for all youth, and to keep our residents healthy and safe during the pandemic,” Glass said. “These efforts haven’t been easy, but they are critical to fostering a more fair and equitable community.”

Montgomery County Circuit Court Clerk Karen Bushell

Montgomery County Circuit Court Karen Bushell (Photo courtesy of Karen Bushell)

Karen Bushell grew up in the Midwest before moving to the D.C. area in 1985, where she met her wife in 1995. Bushell had four children and her wife had two children when they met, and according to Bushell, “we had a very, very busy house.” 

Bushell started serving in the judiciary in 2001 — as an HR associate, and then as a judicial assistant for many years. When Barbara Michael retired as Clerk of the Court in April 2021, Bushell was appointed to the position, making her the first openly LGBTQ person to hold it. 

The Clerk of the Court serves as an independent record keeper of what happens in the courts, and Bushell described the clerk’s role as primarily that of a public servant. 

“I love my job; I love being part of the judiciary. Being a public servant, it’s always good to know at the end of the day, that you help somebody,” Bushell said. “I think being a public servant is something that is important to me, so that is one of the reasons that that I’m running.”

Prince George’s County Public Schools Board of Education member Pamela Boozer-Strother

Prince George’s County Public Schools Board of Education member Pamela Boozer-Strother (Photo courtesy of Pamela Boozer-Strother)

Pamela Boozer-Strother first became involved in LGBTQ and reproductive rights advocacy in the late 1980s as part of what was then called the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. During the decade she spent working with NLGJA; she worked towards inclusive workplace policies, fair and accurate news coverage of LGBTQ issues, and domestic partner benefits. 

After living in Adams Morgan for years, Boozer-Strother moved to Prince George’s County with her spouse Margaret, where they adopted a child and built a life together. Boozer-Strother first became involved in the school system when her son started attending public school in Prince George’s County, and in 2018 she ran for the Board of Education and won. 

“I had an opportunity to make a difference by being visible, and finding other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families and staff — and ultimately, students — and helping to build that network of support,” Boozer-Strother said. “It’s taken some time; I ran for the board in 2018 as an out candidate and I won, and I am thrilled to live in a community that saw that as an asset.”

Boozer-Strother has worked extensively on school construction, educational equity policy, LGBTQ-inclusive curricula and the board’s climate change action plan.

“Of course, I focused in on the relevance of my representation and my skills and background that I could bring to [my platform.] But really, I got into this because of school construction,” Boozer-Strother said. “I’m really proud to say that, as of today, seven projects that serve District 3 students are fully funded.”

Prince George’s County Council candidate Krystal Oriadha

Krystal Oriadha (Photo courtesy of Krystal Oriadha)

Krystal Oriadha studied business at Howard University before getting an MBA and working at Hewlitt-Packard. After a few years with HP, Oriadha moved back to the DMV area, where she said that “I wanted to use my skill set to help people and make an impact.” 

Oriadha has now been a community organizer and advocate for more than 12 years — she worked with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on human trafficking prevention, reproductive healthcare, domestic violence campaigns and tribal nations issues for about four years before she made her first run for office, for the same seat for which she is running now. Although Oriadha lost that election by 30 votes, she became the new council member’s policy director, which gave her the chance to work on making legislation as a staffer.

“I think I learned that I wanted to be the principal even more, because they had the ability to make deals, cancel what I thought was really good legislation,” Oriadha said. “It’s really different when you’re the person that gets the make that last call — that’s the difference between having a seat at the table and being outside of the room when decisions are being made.”

Oriadha currently serves as the executive director of PG Change Makers, a local nonprofit she co-founded after returning to Prince George’s County to do community work in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. Although she was not initially planning to run for office again, Oriadha said that she is doing so at the request of her community.

“I was not planning on running again because it is a lot of work and I never really cared about being elected, but the community is asking me to, so I decided to go ahead and give it another try,” Oriadha said.

Oriadha said that proudly representing all aspects of her identity is a crucial part of her campaign.

“When I first ran, there was a lot of talk about how not to talk about the LGBTQ+ part, because I’m straight presenting. And for me, what was so important is that I made it very clear who I am, and that I didn’t shy away or hide that part of myself, because to me, you’re not breaking the [glass] ceiling if people don’t even know the ceiling existed. I think that we’ve never had an openly elected LGBTQ+ person sit on our County Council before,” Oriadha said.

“I think what this will show is that you can run and be yourself and it won’t cost you anything. I think that’s what is so important about this election.”

Howard County Register of Wills Byron Macfarlane

Byron Macfarlane, gay news, Washington Blade
Howard County Register of Wills Byron Macfarlane (Washington Blade photo by Drew Brown)

Howard County Register of Wills Byron Macfarlane has served in the position since 2010 and was the first openly LGBTQ person elected in Howard County.

Along with his involvement in a plethora of state and local groups and organizations and being admitted to the state bar association, Macfarlane gained experience working for multiple prominent lawyers and politicians including County Councilman Guy Guzzone, Circuit Court Judge Richard Bernhardt, state Sen. Edward Kasemeyer and the late-U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.)

During his tenure in office, Macfarlane has made supporting the LGBTQ community an integral facet of his identity as a public official and a fellow citizen. 

“Queer kids see the hate coming from the dark corners of our community,” Macfarlane wrote on Twitter. “They need to hear from us — from you — that we love and support every one of them.”

Since being elected, Macfarlane has overseen a number of reforms implemented in the Register’s office, including modernization of its technological aspects and a cut on taxpayer expenditures for antiquated procedures. Modernizing the Register’s office and leading on reform, while also being receptive to his constituents, Macfarlane has said, have been some of his top priorities.

“I’ve proven myself as a reliable and responsive figure in our local government, that I’ve been extremely effective delivering meaningful reform, and that now more than ever our community needs steady, forward-looking leadership they can trust,” Macfarlane told the Blade. “I’m running for re-election because representation matters, because I want to continue serving the public with professionalism, compassion, and fairness, and because I want to continue pushing reforms to make probate faster, fairer and less expensive for Marylanders.”

Editor’s note: Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin, who is openly gay, won re-election on May 10.

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