Jere Van Syoc

Jere Van Syoc pic

April 22, 1935 – January 6, 2018

Painter, sculptor, and pioneering filmmaker Jere Van Syoc graduated from Lincoln High in Ferndale.  She went on to earn her B.A. and M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and later taught at Western Michigan University and Nazareth College.  In 1977, Van Syoc co-founded Aradia in Grand Rapids, where her home was known as “a palace for the goddess.”  She died at age 82 in West Virginia.

High Lawn Funeral Home

Jere Van Syoc Collection at The Woman Behind the Camera

Michele Donnelly

Michele Donnelly pic

December 12, 1958 – July 27, 2018

Dexter resident Michele Lee Donnelly was born in Detroit and graduated with the class of 1976 from Redford Union High School.  She enjoyed camping on Lake Michigan and watching Tiger Baseball and was a member of the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor.  Donnelly and her wife Sherry Smith were together 30 years.

Ann Arbor News, August 1, 2018

Carl Mitchell

Carl Mitchell pic

April 12, 1932 – May 14, 2018

Orphaned as a child, former Detroiter Carl Mitchell joined the U.S. Army at age 17 and served as a combat medic during the Korean War.  While home in Detroit on leave, he discovered the gay bars downtown, where his uniform attracted much attention.  He later worked as a nurse in Detroit-area hospitals.  Mitchell was survived in St. Petersburg, Florida by Robert Stanley, his partner of 48 years.

Between The Lines, May 24, 2018

Joe Periard

Joe Periard pic

June 2, 1964 – July 2, 2018

Joseph Patrick Periard of Kalamazoo, formerly of Southfield, was born in Bay City and graduated from Bay City Western High School.  He earned his Bachelor’s in computer science from Michigan Technological University and was later employed with Ford Credit in Detroit.  In March 2017, Periard was united in marriage with Joseph Biron II, who survives him.

Kalamazoo Gazette, July 3, 2018

Tess Wiseheart

Tess Wiseheart pic

March 5, 1944 – December 23, 2018

Grand Rapids native Tess Wiseheart graduated from Ottawa High School and earned her Bachelor’s at Olivet College.  She began her teaching career in Milford and later taught in Grand Rapids, where she was a founding member of Aradia.  For 20 years she served as coordinator for the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.  After moving to Oregon in 1988, Wiseheart directed the Portland Women’s Crisis Line.

OLOC E-News, January 2019

Melissa Zicarelli

Melissa Zicarelli pic

October 9, 1990 – September 3, 2018

Born in Detroit, Melissa Silvia Zicarelli of Lansing earned her B.S. in Spanish and linguistics and her M.A. in teaching English to speakers of other languages from Central Michigan University.  She later worked as director of preschool enrichment at Okemos Public Montessori.  In November 2017, Zicarelli was united in marriage with Katherine VanArdsall.

Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes

Betty Martin

Betty Martin pic

March 29, 1948 – September 20, 2018

Betty Jane Martin, a lifelong Caledonia resident, graduated from Caledonia High School and earned her MSW from Grand Valley State University.  Her career encompassed worked with the YWCA, Pine Rest Christian Hospital, and her brother’s dairy farm.  Martin served as board president for Reconciliation Metropolitan Community Church in Grand Rapids where she also played drums in the church band.

Grand Rapids Press, September 23, 2018

Gwen Sanford

Gwen Sanford pic

October 26, 1942 – January 15, 2018

Traverse City resident Gwen Sanford grew up in Grand Rapids, studied at Grand Rapids Junior College and Valparasio Technical Institute, and served as a trooper and diving instructor with the Michigan State Police from 1966 to 1992.  After retiring, the former Glenn transitioned to Gwen and later served on the board of Friends North.  Sanford was survived by her wife Carol Larson and three children.

Traverse City Record-Eagle, January 21, 2018

Suzanne Moore

Suzanne Moore pic

June 20, 1935 – November 17, 2018

Born in Detroit, Frances Suzanne Moore moved to California at age 22, served as a journalist in the U.S. Navy, and worked at the Jet Propulsion Lab of California Tech.  As an activist in San Diego, she cared for patients with AIDS and served as chair of the local Gay Academic Union.  Moore was preceded in death by her wife and partner of 27 years Charlynn Johnson.

Mad River Union, January 26, 2019

Gary Davis

Gary Davis pic

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