Local entertainer Darryl Broadus

Darryl Broadus, a local entertainer and designer, died suddenly after a short illness on Nov. 13. He was 59.

To those who knew him, Darryl Broadus was an introspective, but highly talented man with a diversity of interests. Broadus was a native Philadelphian and graduate of Northeast High School.

During his decades in the local gay community, Broadus was known as a gifted musician and entertainer. Throughout the 1980s and the zenith of the local piano and dinner theater trend in Philadelphia, Broadus performed in many of the local venues. He was well-known on the circuit for his performances at Rembrandt’s, Raffles, Tavern on Camac and others. Those who frequented his performances remember him as “an engaging performer” and “a kind soul.”

His longtime friend Jay Johnson, Coordinator of Volunteers for Action Wellness, told PGN that Broadus, who played piano and keyboards, was a consummate entertainer who drew in the crowds. “Back in the day, he played everywhere,” Johnson said. “And Darryl played beautifully, just beautifully,” Johnson remembers fondly.

Tom Salber was Broadus’s friend for the last few years of his life. They met when Salber, a nurse, was caring for Broadus’s mother, Vivian, who was in hospice. “It was a difficult and painful time for him,” Salber recalls.

Salber was going on vacation to the shore with Johnson and suggested they invite Broadus along for the weekend to help him deal with his grief. “Darryl ended up staying the whole week,” Salber said. As they all became friends, Broadus and Johnson discovered they had gone to high school together. “We reconnected,” Johnson said. “It was a really great time.”

Salber describes his friend as a quiet man who was deeply loyal “to a fault” to family and friends. He was an animal lover and devoted to his cat.

Johnson said Broadus was passionate about his music but also about sewing and cooking, and at the time of his death, Broadus was a cook at Whole Foods. Johnson said he “prepared many fine meals that pleased the palate.”

Over the years, Broadus expanded his repertoire to include work for the Temple Opera Company, where he was both a performer and designer. He also sewed privately, specializing in individually designed clothes.

For Salber, his friend was a “self-taught man who had a wide and infectious smile and a compassion for people.” For Johnson, the very tall Broadus was “a gentle giant — there is no better description of Darryl. He was just a devoted, kind and loving man. A real gentle giant — he was always right there for his friends.”

Broadus’ friend Maggie, who posted on Broadus’ tribute page at Hancock Funeral Home, said, “In loving memory of one of the most gentle men I know. I will miss your music, your wit and your spirit. I hope you have found the peace you sought. Know that you are loved, know you will never be forgotten.”

Salber has arranged a memorial service for Broadus, with his sister. 

“My intent was to have a musical tribute, to let people who remembered Darryl’s music know about his death, but also to remember him and his music and celebrate his life and what he gave to the community,” Salber said.

A musical celebration and memorial service of Darryl Broadus’ life will be held on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019 at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 6001 Colgate Street, in Northeast Philadelphia (Lawncrest) at noon. Broadus was predeceased by his parents, Vivian and Louis. He is survived by a sister, Sandra, and a brother, Anthony.

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Victoria A. Brownworth is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, DAME, The Advocate, Bay Area Reporter and Curve among other publications. She was among the OUT 100 and is the author and editor of more than 20 books, including the Lambda Award-winning Coming Out of Cancer: Writings from the Lesbian Cancer Epidemic and Ordinary Mayhem: A Novel, and the award-winning From Where They Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth and Too Queer: Essays from a Radical Life.