Michael Roussell met his future husband—the love of his life—Ben E. Killebrew, in Woburn, Massachusetts in 1980. The couple later moved to Annapolis and began visiting Rehoboth Beach soon after. In 1981, they bought their first home here.
In 1995, over a decade later, they decided to open a Bed and Breakfast, and Michael and Ben became the first owners of The Shore Inn, a Rehoboth institution located on Rehoboth Avenue near Church Street.
Ben passed away June 27, 2014, having shared over 33 beautiful years with Michael. Today, Michael resides on Rehoboth Avenue, along with his two dogs (Pomeranians), Rusty and Quinn. He is also employed with the Transportation Department at Beebe Medical Center in Lewes.
When did you start volunteering at CAMP Rehoboth and what events/activities have you been involved with since?
Ben and I started volunteering at Sundance in the early years. It was a very exciting time. [Editor’s note: Ben Killebrew was the Sundance Auctioneer for many years.] After some time off, this past Sundance I volunteered for the first time in years, and it reminded me of what all the volunteers do for this wonderful event. Some of the volunteers were still there at 6 p.m., only to run home to change clothes or let their dogs out and be back when the doors opened at 7 p.m. Nothing had changed all these years later!
What’s your best memory volunteering here?
The highlight for me would have to be Sundance. My heart also goes out to the AIDS Walk…people coming together to remember all of their friends who have passed and all the others in our lives that were taken away so early!
CAMP Rehoboth has held many events over our 25 years, which is your favorite and why?
Sundance, of course! It is always such a joyous time for so many of us. The Auctions, both Silent and Live, are so popular and attract such a diverse group every year. Then there’s the Sunday night Dance. Who can forget the fun of the Dance? I have so many fond memories of Sundance!
Celebrating a quarter century as a local LGBT non-profit, please tell us about a special anniversary you’ve celebrated over the last 25 years.
Ben and I, for our 25th anniversary, flew to Rome. It was a wonderful time and during the live broadcast of the Pope’s live Mass in Algier. Our picture was taken in front of a big screen and was printed in the Cape Gazette during Easter week.
Favorite season here at the beach and why?
Winter. We locals get to see one another much easier and are better able to take the time to talk again.
Name a childhood mentor or someone who influenced you while growing up.
My grandmother. She always told me if I made a promise, even if it killed me, I had to keep it. If someone told me a secret it stayed a secret. I was also hyper and had to read!
If you had an extra hour in the day, what would you do?
Want another hour, there’s never enough time.
Best year of your life and why?
1980! I met Ben and went on to begin a wonderful journey of 33 years with the most wonderful person anyone could ever meet.
Favorite holiday and why?
Christmas. My mother loved that time of year and so do I.
Would you consider yourself a night owl or early riser and why?
I have been getting up around 5 a.m. for over thirty years so I really am an early riser. If something is important I’ll stay up late, otherwise, I’ll see you in the morning.
The LGBT community has made significant progress in the fight for equality over recent years. Did you expect to see this in your lifetime and why or why not?
No, I can still remember having to hide who you were! My grandmother thought my best friend sounded like a “fruit.” Who would have ever thought we’d come this far?
Name the biggest change you’ve seen in Rehoboth and how long have you been coming here.
I started coming to Rehoboth Beach in 1981, and the most change I’ve seen is the amount of people coming here. I can remember when we could still see our friends every day and that has long since passed.
Name three events that have shaped your life to where it is today.
Meeting Ben in 1980. Opening the Shore Inn in 1995. And this year, being by myself and getting back into the real world. It has taken time!
Describe an ideal date night.
Nice quiet dinner and nice conversation.
Yet another long political Presidential primary season lies ahead. Who do you expect to be nominated by each of the main parties?
Clinton and Bush.
What are you most thankful for?
The life I had with Ben, and the great memories I have of all of our past and present friends.
You give a wonderful tribute to Ben here, Michael, and on behalf of the staff and Board of Directors, we extend our sincere thanks to all of the volunteer efforts that both of you contributed to CAMP Rehoboth over the years. And welcome back! It was wonderful seeing you back with the gang this past Sundance. Here’s to many more.