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June 16, 1930 – May 26, 2014

The Rev. Clara Gillies, who was a long-time deacon of Trinity Episcopal Church and advocate in the LGBT community, died Monday at HighPointe on Michigan nursing facility. She was 83.

Rev. Gillies was born in Manhattan and attended Hunter College in New York City.

She was ordained a deacon in June 1983 and served at Trinity Episcopal Church on Delaware Avenue.

She was the urban missioner of the diocese and was active with the LGBT community.

She opened Refuge House in 1987 as a residence for men with AIDS, one of the first of its kind. The house served as a place where hundreds of men who were shunned by family and friends could stay as long as they needed.

Rev. Gillies retired from Trinity Episcopal in 2002. She then worked as a pastoral care volunteer at Buffalo General Hospital.

She later developed Alzheimer’s disease.

She is survived by a son, Steven Brunner; four daughters, Judy Martisek, Virginia DeCicco, Katie Ball and Rosetta Menifee; her former husband Michael Marney; six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at 4 p.m. June 22 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 371 Delaware Ave. A celebration will follow at Hamlin House, 432 Franklin St.