October 28, 1941 – June 15, 2001
Sylvia Robinson moved to Detroit at age 10, attended Northwestern High School, and earned her MSW from Wayne State. In 1977, she was appointed liaison to the gay community for the city’s Human Rights Department. Robinson also co-founded the Detroit Coalition of Black Gays in 1979, served as education officer for the Michigan Organization for Human Rights, and later attended Full Truth Fellowship Church.
No known obituary
February 20, 1941 – May 19, 1993
Flint native and Swartz Creek resident John Rex Brooks was a graduate of Michigan State University with a B.A. and M.A. specializing in counseling and psychology. He was a teacher and counselor at Longfellow Junior High, later Longfellow Middle School, for 29 years, and was long active in the Flint teacher’s union. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 52.
Flint Journal, May 20, 1993
July 19, 1941 – May 30, 2016
Taylor resident and Detroit native Diane Mary Bono graduated from Allen Park High School in 1959 and later worked as a cosmetology instructor. From 1974 to 1979, along with her then-partner Donna Chartier and their friend June Reynolds, Bono operated the Casbah Lounge, the first lesbian-owned lesbian bar in Detroit.
No known obituary
January 24, 1941 – October 3, 1999
Kay Clare McIlnay grew up in Detroit and in the late 1970s moved to the Central Valley region of California, where s he and her loving companion Nancy Ruth Walker operated the Hummin Llama Ranch. McIlnay died at age 58 after a long battle with cancer.
Detroit Free Press, October 5, 1999
September 25, 1941 – September 8, 2007
A 1960 graduate of Jackson High School and 1982 graduate of Michigan State University, Suzanne Klinko worked with the AWARE Shelter and the Community Action Agency before taking a job as substance abuse counselor for Chelsea Community Hospital. She was preceded in death by her life partner Susan Roark.
Midland Daily News, September 11, 2007
November 20, 1941 – February 2, 1989
Oliver Wellington Sipple was born in Detroit, grew up in Royal Oak, and served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1967 to 1970, including a tour-of-duty in Vietnam. After leaving the military, he moved to San Francisco, where he could live a more open gay life. On September 22, 1975, Sipple made headlines and history when he prevented an attempted assassin from shooting President Gerald Ford.
New York Times, February 4, 1989
Radiolab story on Oliver Sipple
April 11, 1941 – July 24, 1973
Larry Frost grew up in Royal Oak. He left Metro Detroit as a young adult and lived in various cities until he landed in New Orleans, where he worked as a bar manager and attended the local Metropolitan Community Church. Frost is believed to be one of three unidentified arson victims of the Upstairs Lounge Fire that killed 32 people.
The Advocate, November 15, 2015
September 26, 1941 – December 10, 2010
Allegan resident Dianna “Jo” Bortz and her husband Jay were active in the Holland/Lakeshore chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. She was a member of All Saints Episcopal Church in Saugatuck. Prior to retirement, Bortz worked in senior care and protective services.
Kalamazoo Gazette, December 16, 2010
September 2, 1941 – April 20, 1992
Detroit native and onetime resident of Dallas, Texas, Sharon Piazza worked as a bouncer at Menjo’s in Detroit and performed in local community theater.
This Week in Texas, May 1, 1992
January 4, 1941 – January 9, 2018
A 1959 graduate of Holland High School, Ronald DeJonge attended Kendall School of Art and Design in Grand Rapids. A veteran of the National Guard, he later worked as a graphic designer and cabinet maker. At his death he shared a home in New Richmond with his partner Darris Chichock.
Holland Sentinel, January 11, 2018