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Oliver 'Billy' Sipple
Please vote to return to collections (Voting Results will appear on Right Sidebar).
    (November 20, 1941-February 2, 1989)
    Born in Detroit, Michigan
    Vietnam vet wounded by shrapnel in 1968 and spent years in various VA hospitals
    Moved to San Francisco and helped political causes of Harvey Milk
    Gathered at San Francisco's Saint Francis Hotel to see President Gerald Ford (September 22, 1975)
    Noticed Sara Jane Moore aiming a gun at Ford and lunged at her, causing the bullet to miss by five feet
    Died in bed of an apparent heart attack at age 47
    Even though he campaigned for openly gay Harvey Milk he hid his own homosexuality.
    Milk and several newspapers outed him by labeling him a 'gay hero.'
    He hid his sexual orientation from his parents, but once he was outed he became estranged from them.
    Though Ford didn't know he was gay he still didn't invite him to the White House and instead merely sent a letter of thanks.
    He had newspaper clippings of his heroism tacked up on his apartment walls next to his framed letter from Ford.
    His later years saw him spiral into deep depression, alcoholism and weight gain.
    His obesity (weighing over 300 pounds) and alcoholism contributed to his death and was probably two weeks dead before found.
    He was a decorated United States Marine Corps veteran whose war wounds would plague him the rest of his life.
    He kept Moore from firing another round by shoving his thumb into the gun's firing mechanism.
    He insisted he had no hard feelings about not getting a White House invite and the letter Ford wrote him was his prized possession.
    He sued seven newspapers for $15 million for outing him in print, citing invasion of privacy but lost the 5-year suit (his story is today used as a study in ethics at journalism schools).
    He famously quoted, 'My sexual orientation has nothing at all to do with saving the President's life, just as the color of my eyes or my race has nothing to do with what happened in front of the St. Francis Hotel.'
    After learning of his death Ford sent a letter stating 'Mrs. Ford and I express out deepest sympathy in this time of sorrow involving your friend's passing...' which was displayed at his funeral then hung at his favorite watering hole.

Credit: Scar Tactics

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