November 10, 1947 – December 24, 2019
Grammy-winning songwriter Alta Sharral “Allee” Willis was born in Detroit and graduated in 1965 from Mumford High School. Following college in Wisconsin, Willis moved to New York, where she launched her music career. Her credits include songs for Earth, Wind, and Fire, the Pointer Sisters, Bonnie Rait, and the theme for the sitcom Friends. Willis was survived by her partner of 27 years Prudence Fenton.
New York Times, December 25, 2019
September 8, 1950 – April 5, 2019
Ecorse resident and beloved Chippewa and Pottawatomi artisan James Aquash was born into the Walpole Island First Nation in Ontario, Canada. In the early 1970s, he became involved with the gay liberation movement on the Wayne State University campus. As a longtime member of the local Native community, Aquash was noted for presenting his beadwork and basket weaving at area pow wows.
Wallaceburg Courier Press, April 18, 2019
November 17, 1947 – July 9, 2019
Clifford Alan “Clif” Levin graduated with the class of 1965 from Oak Park High School, earned his B.A. at Wayne State, and went on to receive his law degree there. In 1973 he began a 30-year career with the Wayne County Friend of the Court. Lemon served on the boards of the Triangle Foundation and the Detroit Together Men’s Chorus. He was also active in community theater in Grosse Pointe.
Between The Lines, July 25, 2019
September 13, 1945 – November 26, 2019
William “Bill” Galligan Jr. grew up in a Chicago suburb and earned his Bachelor’s at Western Michigan University. Following a career as an educator, Galligan moved to Saugatuck, where he became a beloved retailer, operating the Old Post Office Shop and later Spice Crazy Cottage. He was active in efforts to enact a gay rights ordinance in the late 1990s and was also a strong supporter of local arts.
Commercial Record, December 5, 2019
January 13, 1951 – July 17, 2019
Owosso native and world traveler Micheal Eugene Koutz graduated with the Hastings High School class of 1969 and went on to Central Michigan University. Following two decades with Adventure Travel in Kalamazoo, Koutz and Michael LoPresto established Experts Travel in 1994. The two were also husbands and life partners, together for 39 years.
Kalamazoo Gazette, July 21, 2019
April 24, 1949 – October 19, 2019
Phyllis Terry Glanz was born in Detroit, was a member of the Southfield High School class of 1967, and earned her B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1971. She later moved to New York and traveled the world in a global career in shipping and sales. Glanz and her life partner of 25 years Sara Mayes were married in 2013.
Detroit Free Press, October 20, 2019
December 20, 1972 – October 18, 2019
Born in Kalamazoo, Lisa Ilene Carlson graduated from Montague High School in Montague and attended Muskegon Community College. She trained as a paramedic at Great Lakes Academy in Allendale and had a 20-year career as an EMT and EMT trainer. She also enjoyed music and was a devoted fan of the Michigan Renaissance Festival. Carlson was survived by her partner Amanda Visger.
Muskegon Chronicle, October 21, 2019
January 16, 1952 – October 1, 2019
Arts supporter, benefactor, and retired attorney David Lyle Balas was born in Mt. Clemens, graduated from University Liggett High School, and attended universities in Ohio. He worked with the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and served on the East Lansing City Council as an openly gay member from 1983 to 1995. Balas and his future husband Jim Sellman moved to Saugatuck in 2003 and wed in 2015.
Between The Lines, October 17, 2019
July 23, 1953 – May 1, 2019
Warren resident Chrissy Surewater attended Fordson High School in Dearborn, studied at Rochester College in Rochester, and worked at Precision Imagery and as a photographer for Ford Motor Company. She was also a longtime member of the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit, for three years serving as office administrator. Surewater was survived by her beloved fiancé Michelle Fox-Phillips.
Between The Lines, May 2, 2019 [online only]
February 3, 1962 – January 7, 2019
Barbara Faye Gessell was born in and spent much of her life in Ohio and held a J.D. and Bachelor’s in business administration. Her long career in human resources included managerial positions at Mercy Health Network, Toledo Edison, and the Toledo Blade. After she was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, Gessell retired to Saugatuck with her wife Jennifer Roe.
Toledo Blade, January 11, 2019