Olga Madar

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May 17, 1915 – May 16, 1996

The daughter of a coal miner, Olga Madar earned a degree in physical education from Eastern Michigan University and rose to become the first woman on the board of the United Auto Workers in 1966 and an international vice president of the union in 1970.  Madar resided in Detroit’s Indian Village.

New York Times, May 18, 1996

Nancy Gardner

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September 8, 1955 – October 2, 2014

Lansing resident Nancy Gardner worked as a computer analyst and volunteered with Capital Area Literacy, Haven House, and Edgewood United Church of Christ.  She and her spouse Julia Grant were one of more than 300 Michigan same-sex couples to wed on June 21, 2014, the day after U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled the state’s marriage ban unconstitutional.

Lansing State Journal, October 5, 2014

Christopher Flynn

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April 29, 1931 – October 29, 1990

A onetime executive assistant with the Joffrey Ballet, Christopher Flynn operated a private dance studio in Rochester in the early 1970s and introduced his student and future superstar Madonna to gay nightlife at Menjo’s.  In 1977, Flynn served as a founding officer of the Michigan Organization for Human Rights.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 58.

Cruise, November 7, 1990

Ten Percent, January 1-14, 1991

Biejay Brewitt

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September 16, 1942 – June 18, 1993

Raised in Tacoma, Washington, Barry Joseph “Biejay” Brewitt served in the Army Medical Corps, attended the University of Detroit and Wayne State University, and worked for Westin Hotels.  He was a founder and longtime officer in the early Detroit leather group Tribe.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 50.

Tacoma News Tribune, July 1, 1993

Bill Beachler

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December 4, 1945 – January 11, 2016

A founder in 1979 of the Lansing Association for Human Rights, William Beachler later helped establish the Pride Scholarship for LGBT students at his alma mater Michigan State University.

Between The Lines, January 21, 2016

Remembering William Beachler

Bill Beachler papers at Michigan State University