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San Diego LGBT Community Center founders Bernie Michels and George Murphy pass away

San Diego LGBT Community Center founders Bernie Michels and George Murphy pass away

We are deeply saddened to share with our Center community that two of our Center Founders, Bernie Michels and George Murphy, passed away.

Bernie Michels chaired the very first planning committee in 1971 to start a gay center for social services, that later became The Center, the second oldest LGBT center in the country. Bernie left San Diego decades ago for the East Coast, but stayed in touch and came back to San Diego to attend The Center’s anniversary galas. Bernie share many times as he reflected on his life, that starting The Center and chairing the first planning committee, remained his proudest achievement in his lifetime.

George Murphy remained a core leader, supporter, and volunteer in our LGBTQ community for 50 years. George served as one of a dozen leaders who founded The Center. He went on to serve on the early Center Board, and continued his a leadership by serving on The Center’s Senior Advisory Committee; he was also a beloved leader at Metropolitan Community Church. In one of The Center Board of Directors most historic votes, he made the motion in 1980 to add “lesbian” to The Center’s name, then the Gay Center; he felt it was important for him, as a gay man to make that motion and open our doors to lesbians and to the women in our community. George will be deeply missed by so many in our community and will be remembered for his decades of good work that built our San Diego LGBTQ community, and his special gift to make everyone feel welcomed.

Both of these important leaders grace The Center’s Community Wall of Honor - one of the nation’s only LGBT community memorial displays dedicated to honoring and remembering important local LGBT community members and their impact upon our community. The Community Wall of Honor is a visible and lasting way of reminding our community of those whose efforts have brought us to where we are today.

We have lost two giants in our history, who had the vision that our region needed a safe place where our community could go for help and community. That vision lives on in our work today, and The Center is so deeply grateful for these two extraordinary individuals, on whose shoulders we stand on today. May they both rest in power.