September 2, 1954 – February 22, 2018
Wilbert Anthony “Billi” Gordon Jr. graduated from Union High School in Dowagiac, class of 1972. He left seminary to attend the University of Michigan, where he became involved in gay activism, including as spokesperson for the Ann Arbor Black Gay Caucus. Gordon went on to become a celebrated model, entertainer, writer, and neuroscientist. He was survived by his spouse of 30 years Robert Schallert.
Los Angeles Times, March 10, 2018
March 8, 1954 – March 27, 2013
Karen C_____ was born in Goodrich and grew up in Ortonville. She was later heterosexually married, raised two children, and for 13 years operated her own restaurant. At the time of her death at age 59, she resided in Spring Hill, Florida. She was survived by her partner Tammy.
Oakland Press, March 29, 2013
September 16, 1954 – February 23. 2019
Jeri Shupe of Pontiac grew up in Taylor and graduated with the class of 1972 from Taylor High School. She worked variously as a ballroom dance instructor, a law office manager, and a licensed cosmetologist. Shupe was active in the Flint-area group Transgender Connect and in 2016, according to her obituary, transitioned from male to female. Her life partner Diane Morin survived her.
Sparks-Griffin Funeral Home
October 17, 1954 – December 11, 2018
Gary Scott Davis, a resident of Palm Springs, California since 2004, attended the Grand Rapids public schools and graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana. He had a long career with the Blackmer division of Dover manufacturers in Grand Rapids. Davis met his future husband Eric Duran in the early 1980s and the two were together more than 35 years.
Grand Rapids Press, April 24, 2019
March 19, 1954 – January 29, 2014
Longtime HIV and AIDS educator and advocate Kaye Lourena McDuffie served as communicable disease coordinator and intervention prevention specialist for the Lansing Area AIDS Network. Born in Ferndale, she graduated from Cass Tech in Detroit before attending Lansing Community College and Michigan State University. A devoted wife and mother, McDuffie was also active in local theater.
Between The Lines, February 6, 2014
LAHR newsletter, March 2014
Riley Funeral Home
December 9, 1954 – June 13, 1999
Raised in a military family, Rev. James Joseph Beates earned his theology degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He moved to Michigan from West Falls, New York and lived in Detroit and Garden City. Beates was the first openly gay pastor to serve in the Presbytery of Detroit and was active in Friends Alliance. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 44.
Detroit Free Press, June 16, 1999
Cruise, June 23, 1999
Between The Lines, June 24, 1999
July 1, 1954 – August 28, 1996
Born in Middleville in Barry County, Rexford Palmer moved to Detroit as a young adult to work in retail. He continued his retail career after relocating in the mid-1980s to San Francisco, where he became active in the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
Bay Area Reporter, September 19, 1996
February 25, 1954 – May 4, 1985
Rick Rapaport worked as a janitor, gas station attendant, cab driver, waiter, cook, bus driver, and for two years as wrestling coach at the Michigan School for the Blind. After dropping out of the University of Michigan in 1974, he visited 45 states and crossed the U.S. fifteen times, returning to school to finish his B.A. at Michigan State University in 1982 with a degree in journalism. He died of complications from AIDS at age 31.
Lansing State Journal, May 6, 1985
State News, May 7, 1985
LAHR newsletter, June 1985
January 18, 1954 – December 3, 2013
Born in Detroit, Janice Zygmontowicz moved to Mt. Pleasant in the 1970s to attend Central Michigan University, where she earned four varsity letters, and played for the championship field hockey team. She worked as an electrician at CMU and later earned a Master’s degree in counseling and became an outpatient therapist.
Morning Sun, December 4, 2013
March 17, 1954 – October 27, 1986
New Jersey native Susan Green worked as a field organizer for the Michigan Organization for Human Rights from 1983 to 1985 before moving to Madison, Wisconsin.
Cruise, November 12, 1986