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Gus Archilla
1915 - 2012
In Memoriam

by Denny Meyer

Gus Archilla and his WWII veteran lover, Elmer Lokkins, were together for 67 years.  They met after the end of World War II, on September 16th, 1945, in Columbus Circle in New York City.  Total strangers, they'd each paused, in a crowd of people, to hear soapbox speakers at the southwest corner of Central Park.  Their eyes met and enduring love ensued, history unfolded, and time flew.  In 2003, they went to Canada with a clan of relatives and got married.

I first met them in late spring in 2007 at the LGBT Community Center in New York City at some event there.  A speaker introduced them and mentioned that Elmer was a WWII vet.  That got my attention; I went over and asked if I could interview them.  You couldn't meet two sweeter men, more in love, with sharper memories of their long life together.  As they grew into their 90s, they moved from NYC to Florida where they have been lovingly cared for by Gus' relatives.  In late November, just shy of his 97th birthday, Gus passed away, a hero of our time and our history, a gentle exemplar of our kind of love, and a man we shall long remember as we progress into the freedom which he and Elmer pioneered.

Their story at http://www.gaymilitarysignal.com/070731Lokkins.html is a love story, a story of one gay American patriot's service in the Pacific in World War II, and a saga of gay history.

Lifetime activists, they became beloved members of American Veterans For Equal Rights, the LGBT veteran's service organization.  Danny Ingram, AVER's national President, wrote, in part:

"American Veterans for Equal Rights gives thanks for the remarkable life of our most senior member, Gustavo "Gus" Archilla, who has passed away at the age of 96."

"An AVER delegation from Fort Lauderdale's Gold Coast Chapter presented a certificate of Life Membership to the couple at their home on Marco Island on April 23rd, 2011."

"Thank you Gus and Elmer for your many years of inspiration and hard work.  Wind to Your Wings, beloved friend."

Gus' loving, affirming, family wrote, in part, the following obituary:

"Gustavo Abimael Archilla, 96, passed away peacefully Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at his home in Marco Island, Florida, just ten days short of his 97th birthday. Gus was born to Gustavo Edmundo and Maria Ildefonsa Estrada on December 7, 1915 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

Gus and his eight brothers and sisters lost their parents early, before adulthood. Gus, being the oldest, became the head of the family, helping to rear his younger siblings. In September of 1945, he met Elmer Lokkins, his spouse and loving partner with whom he spent a happy and rewarding life of over 67 years.

Gus is survived by his spouse, Elmer Lokkins, brother, Eliel Archilla, 31 nieces and nephews, a growing number of grand nieces and grand nephews (all too numerous to name), and hundreds of dear friends throughout the world. Gus was preceded in death by his parents, sisters, Idalia, Emmy and Loyda, and brothers, Abidam, Ruben, Nathaniel and Efraim.

There will be no funeral services held, as per Gus’s wishes. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Marriage Equality USA, the Foundation for PSP or the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America in memory of Gus."

In every generation there are a few heroes who stand out, by their actions and by their love.  Gus Archilla, along with his partner Elmer, stood out heroically across the generations of our modern history.  He lived his life in pride and courage.  We can do no better than to follow his example.

It is an honor to salute your memory, dear friend.

Denny Meyer, SFC USAR

  2013 Gay Military Signal