A memorial service was held last Saturday, January 8, at the Pride Center at Equality Park to celebrate the lives of Stephen Duane Adams, 52, and his partner, Kevin Mark Powell, 47, the Wilton Manors gay couple who police now believe were shot and killed in their home on Christmas Eve.
Powell’s family was represented at the noon service by his mother, brother and sister, Jean, Anthony, and Crystal Kicklighter. Powell’s sister remarked that the couple were together “longer than Adam and Eve,” and that “their love was the kind most people never embrace.” Powell was an interior designer whose work was featured in trade magazines.
Meanwhile, in Youngstown, Ohio, the family of Stephen Duane Adams also conducted a memorial service, with a number of nurses from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio attending. Stephen and Kevin had lived in Cleveland for over 20 years, before relocating to South Florida in 2000. Adams had earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Bowling Green State University.
The moving service in Wilton Manors included the release of two white doves by Kicklighter and her brother to commemorate the life of the couple that met in Cleveland at a gay pride event 29 years ago.
Another friend, Mark Grassini of Fort Lauderdale, brought two palm trees to plant at the Pride Center, along with some plants.
Speakers at the intimate memorial service included Wilton Manors Mayor, Gary Resnick, and City Commissioner Julie Carson. Words of comfort were also offered by Rev. Tita Calzada from Unity Church of Fort Lauderdale.
Said another family friend, Anna Tousey-Johnson, of the couple: “Their lives impacted many and radiated the love that they so graciously gave.”
Friends of Kevin Powell and Stephen Duane Adams also posted their memories on Facebook. One touching comment came from Powell’s from Andy Wirth, a lifelong friend from Wyoming, where he had grown up: “A kind and gentle soul...with an incredible smile and infectious laugh. We had a ton of fun growing up and living in the 'hills'. From ballet to running through the sagebrush
Stephen was the oldest of four Adams children. Added Marci Craig, his sister, "Stephen and Kevin were so kind and compassionate. Stephen would never hurt a soul," she said.
"All three of us agreed that he was the confidant and was a good listener. He could find the positive in any situation," she said. Craig said her brother originally planned to go into the business field and attended what is now the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center before deciding to enter nursing.
The suspect in the killings, Peter Serge Avsenew, 26, was arrested a few days after the murder in upstate Florida, in possession of the victims’ stolen car and some of their personal items. While in jail on a no bond hold for probation violations, a grand jury has not yet indicted him for first degree murder in the slayings.