February 3, 1938 – December 31, 2022
Violet Betty “Vy” Reed graduated with the class of 1955 from Dearborn High School. She pursued a career in education, earning her B.A. from Western Michigan University and M.A. from Michigan State, then working as a teacher and counselor in Roseville. She found community in the 1960s at Fred’s Bar and later as a member and facilitator of Silver Foxes and the Senior Koffee Klatch at Affirmations.
Detroit Free Press, January 24, 2023
Between The Lines, February 1, 2023 [online only]
February 13, 1938 – May 6, 2020
Born in Ohio, Karen Sue Johnston graduated from Saginaw High School in 1956 and earned her B.S. in biology from Albion College in 1960. After pursuing advanced degrees at Columbia and DePaul, she served as Director of Physical Therapy at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak from 1970 to 1996. Johnstone represented in the U.S. at four Paralympics Games. Her partner Dr. Jane C. Perrin survived her.
Detroit Free Press, May 12, 2020
September 19, 1938 – September 10, 1998
Walter Leroy Brown of Erie, formerly of Southgate, grew up in Ohio and as an employee of National Amusement later worked as a manager of cinemas in Ann Arbor and Detroit. In the mid-1960s, he served as “mother of the bride” for a same-sex wedding held at the Park Lane Apartments across from the Diplomat Lounge in Detroit. Brown died during heart surgery at age 59.
Monroe Evening News, September 12, 1998
March 27, 1938 – September 21, 1994
Native Detroiter William John Thompson served in the Army, earned a Master’s from Wayne State, taught public school, and worked in advertising. He was active in multiple organizations, including ASP, MOHR, Dignity, BWMT, and MAPP. Thompson was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Detroit area Pride Banquet in 1993. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 56.
Between The Lines, November 1994
Cruise, November 9, 1994
April 12, 1938 – October 23, 2010
Huntington Woods resident Frank Gordon Martin was born in Detroit, graduated with the January 1957 class from Pershing High, and attended Wayne State University. Martin later operated a textbook store near campus and in the 1980s was president of the Association of Suburban People. He was survived by Al Vezza, his life partner of 54 years. The two met on a streetcar just before Martin’s 18th birthday.
Between The Lines, November 4, 2010
February 3, 1938 – April 4, 2015
Brian Vincent Michael Sullivan of Dearborn was born in the Bronx and lived in New York through high school. He earned his Bachelor’s from Mercy College, served three years in the U.S. Army, and later pursued a Master’s in counseling from Wayne State University to become an addiction therapist. Sullivan was survived by Robert Curtis, his life partner of 48 years.
Howe-Peterson Funeral Home
February 19, 1938 – April 4, 2017
Detroit native Marjorie Kate Chamberlain earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in speech pathology from Wayne State University and helped treat stroke patients at Sinai Hospital. She later taught at Eastern Michigan University, where she also directed the Speech and Hearing Clinic. Chamberlain and her life partner Charlotte Wixom retired to Gladwin before relocating to Fort Meyers, Florida.
Ann Arbor News, June 30, 2017
February 4, 1938 – February 27, 2009
Portia June Fagan was born in Kalamazoo, attended Richland High School, graduated from Western Michigan University, and had a long career as a tax preparer and real estate broker. In 1994, she came out as lesbian in the Kalamazoo Gazette to “break down stereotypes.” Fagan and her life partner Janice O’Dell retired to Arizona in the early 2000s.
Kalamazoo Gazette, March 11, 2009
February 22, 1938 – August 26, 1981
Douglas Lauren Niles graduated with the Flint Central High School class of 1956 and operated hair salons in downtown Flint for more than 20 years. He was long active in local community theater and civic ballet. Niles was found shot to death in his car.
Flint Journal, August 27, 1981
February 12, 1938 – February 1, 2016
Louis Rhodes Farmer was born in Lynchburg, Virginia and moved to Michigan in 1956. He was employed as a custodian for the University of Michigan while working his way through college, served in the U.S. military from 1961 to 1963, and earned his M.A. in education from Eastern Michigan University in 1970. Farmer retired from teaching with the Chlesea School District in 1988 and lived in Ypsilanti.
Ann Arbor News, February 16, 2016