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
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
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
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
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
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
May 8, 1998 – July 3, 2018
Al Davey attended East Kentwood High School in Kentwood and went on to study communications and creative writing at Eastern Michigan University. They also edited Cellar Roots, the EMU literary and arts magazine and authored At the Close: A Collection of Poems. Davey was non-binary and active with the campus group QUEST, Queer Unity for Eastern Students. They took their own life at age 20.
Grand Rapids Press, July 4, 2018
Eastern Echo, July 9, 2018
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
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
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