History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - People - Bios

Dennis K. Wesela


January 19, 1942
murdered December 26, 1980
Primary Involvements:

Factory bar


  circa 1979/ age 37, at The Pageant

Dennis K. Wesela was an extremely friendly and personable guy, with a wicked sense of humor. He was called "King" by family, serving as Best Man at his brother's wedding and Godfather to a nephew. At one time married and the father of two girls, Dennis also worked as a police officer for 5 years in Mauston Wis. prior to moving to Milwaukee. In Milwaukee, he bartended at John Hawk's Pub, and also was a part-time doorman and bouncer at the Factory Bar, a popular gay disco.

Dennis was 38 years old when, working as a doorman/ bouncer at the Factory Bar, he was shot and killed by an irate patron following a dispute over $9. It followed just 19 months after the killing of another Factory bouncer, James W. Kallas ('Tiny') in May 1979.

The killing of Wesela was one of several closely spaced attacks on gay people, and together these attacks sparked unity and anti-violence campaigns by the gay community and forced increased awareness by civic leaders and the police.

Dennis was survived by his partner, John Rogge.

Article: bouncer Dennis K. Wesela shot, killed at The Factory
(Milw. Journal, Dec. 26 1980)
Article: John M. Pegelow charged with
first degree murder of bouncer Dennis K. Wesela
(Milw. Journal, Dec. 27 1980)
Obituary for Dennis K. Wesela
(Milw. Journal, Dec. 29 1980)
Account of Factory owner Chuck on events leading to shooting of Dennis K. Wesela
(as related by Paul DeMarco to Don Schwamb)
Article: show 'Hooray for Hollywood II' show
to benefit for Dennis Wesela Memorial Fund
(Escape v. 4-11, Nov. 1981)

3 winners of Mr. Club Milwaukee contest:
from left to right: Dennis Wesela (3rd place), Gene Conti (2nd), John Diamond (winner), emcee Paul DeMarco
(GPU News, Jan. 1976)

Article: "Unite against assaults"
(GPU News, Feb. 1981)

Article: Wesela murder prompts meeting with D.A. Michael McCann
(GPU News, Feb. 1981)

Credits: web site concept, design and content by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: February-2023.

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