Rayya Elias

Rayya Elias pic 2

April 16, 1960 – January 4, 2018

Lesbian writer, filmmaker, and punk musician Rayya Mokdessy Elias was born in Syria, grew up in Metro Detroit, and graduated from Center Line High School.  She moved to New York in the 1980s, returning intermittently to Michigan, living in Warren and Royal Oak.  Elias directed the film shorts Anonymous and Lunchroom and authored the memoir Harley Loco.  She was survived by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The Cut, January 5, 2018

The Alpha Wolf

Jesse Melot

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June 15, 1981 – December 10, 2018

Born in Lansing, Jesse James Sherman Melot graduated from Fulton High School in Middleton in 1999.  He later earned his Associate’s at Lansing Community College and his Bachelors from Sienna Heights University, going on to work as operations manager for Farm Bureau Insurance.  Melt met his future husband Derek Melot in March 2004 and the two wed in October 2013.

Lansing State Journal, December 14, 2018

Carol McGill-Colagrossi

Carol McGill-Colagrossi pic

July 9, 1953 – February 17, 2018

A resident and native of Indiana, Carol Ann McGill-Colagrossi operated a hair salon and pursued her MSW at Western Michigan University.  She went on to work as a social worker in substance abuse rehabilitation at a number of health care clinics and agencies in her home state.  McGill-Colagrossi met her future wife Jean McGill in 1990 and the two were married in Iowa in 2013.

South Bend Tribune, February 21, 2018

Rachael Jackson

Rachael Two-Spirit Jackson pic

May 13, 1953 – February 16, 2018

White Lake resident and transgender activist Rachael Stephaine Two-Spirit Jackson had a 47-year career in flexographic printing and was employed at the FSI Label Company in Roseville.  She was active in Affirmations and PFLAG Plymouth-Canton, as well as the Native American community, serving on the board for American Indian Services, Inc.  Jackson was survived by her wife Marie.

O’Brien & Sullivan Memorial Services

Billi Gordon

Billi Gordon pic

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

Carolyn Fretz

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November 17, 1932 – October 15, 2018

Born in Jackson, Carolyn Joan Fretz graduated with the 1950 high school class from Midland High School, attended Michigan State University and the earned her Bachelor’s in phys ed from Central Michigan University.  Following a long career as an elementary teacher with the Midland Public Schools, she operated her own pet care service.  Fretz was preceded in death by life partner Gwendolyn Bagley.

Midland Daily News, October 18, 2018

Randy Pope

Randy Pope pic

March 30, 1944 – December 4, 2018

Randall Steven “Randy” Pope grew up in Battle Creek and earned his B.S. from the University of Michigan.  He worked for the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta before returning to Michigan.  During his 40-year career in public health, Pope was at the forefront of steering state governmental response to the HIV/AIDS crisis.  Pope was preceded in death by his wife and survived by two sons and two stepsons.

Lansing State Journal, December 11, 2018

Carl Kinnunen

Carl Kinnunen pic

September 21, 1925 – July 20, 2018

Longtime Ironwood resident Carl Mathew Kinnunen grew up in Wisconsin and attended college at the University of Wisconsin.  During World War II, Kinnunen served in the U.S. Navy as a Yeoman First Class in the Pacific.  He later worked as an accountant in the construction industry and in retirement was active in his church choir and with charitable causes in Gogebic and Iron counties.

McDevitt-Patrick Funeral Home & Crematory

Jenifer Kohout

Jenifer Kohout pic

April 15, 1964 – July 23, 2018

Jenifer Anne Kohout grew up on Air Force bases throughout the U.S. and overseas.  After finishing her Bachelor’s at Duke, she earned an M.S. in Natural Resource Policy from the University of Michigan and her J.D. from the UM Law School.  In the 1990s, Kohout was an occasional columnist for Between The Lines.  She later enjoyed a rich career in Alaska.  Kohout was survived by her spouse Karen Komopacki.

Washington Post, August 7, 2018

Tangala Moore-Powers

Tangala Moore Powers pic

July 9. 1979 – March 16, 2018

Tangela Moore-Powers graduated with the class of 1999 from Muskegon Heights High School and studied photography at Spring Arbor University.  In the mid-2000s she moved to Mesa, Arizona, where she attended the Arizona School of Massage Therapy and worked as a stocker for Walmart.  She and Sharon Powers met in 2006 and were married in September 2015.

Muskegon Chronicle, March 23, 2018