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
December 20, 1922 – August 6, 2019
Lake Ann resident and Clare native Betty Jane Finout worked on the assembly line in Flint during World War II and earned her B.S. from Central Michigan University. She went on to coach and teach physical education at schools in Fenton, Holly, Lake Fenton, and Owosso. Finout enjoyed an active retirement into her 90s and was survived by two children and by longtime partner Samantha Niergarth.
Lesbian Connection, January/February 2020
April 18, 1934 – August 17, 2019
George Russell Francoeur of Bloomfield Township graduated from Highland Park High School, studied design at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and earned his MFA from the University of Michigan. He later taught art history at Henry Ford Community College for 30 years. Francoeur was preceded in death in 2007 by his life partner of 42 years Gerald “Jerry” Earls.
Lynch & Sons Funeral Directors
July 5, 1940 – April 2, 2019
Suzanne Cumberworth Gary was an Indiana native and graduated from Grosse Pointe High School. At the University of Michigan, she earned her B.A. and won the prestigious Hopwood Award for her poetry in 1960 and 1961. Following college, she drove to San Francisco and stayed, discovering lesbian feminism and teaching in Alameda, California. Gary was survived by her partner of 18 years Laura Bock.
Lesbian Connection, September/October 2019
April 16, 1950 – April 22, 2019
Battle Creek native Sue Ann Fitzgerald, known as “Drum Mama,” was a graduate of Lakeview High School and Central Michigan University, earning her M.S. in biology. At Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, she worked as a medical technologist for 34 years. Fitzgerald sang with the Sistrum chorus, was long active with the Girl Scouts, and regularly joined in MichFest and other womyn’s music gatherings.
Lesbian Connection September/October 2019
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
July 27, 1933 – March 22, 2019
Margaret “Peg” Powell was born in Lansing and served as an MP with the Women’s Army Corps during the Korean War. She raised her younger sister and two children of her own and studied to become an LPN, specializing in hospice care. Powell was active in Lansing’s lesbian community in the 1970s and 1980s before moving to Wisconsin. She was survived by Mary Kay Schleiter, her partner of 32 years.
Lesbian Connection, November/December 2019
Casey Family Options
January 12, 1966 – October 25, 2019
Tara Louise Kelley was born in Flint, graduated from Bentley High School in Burton, and served six years in the U.S. Navy. She later earned her Bachelor’s at the University of Michigan-Flint, served in the National Guard, and for 19 years worked as a corrections officer with the State of Michigan. Kelley and her longtime partner Angelina Winn were found dead in their Kingsley home in a tragic murder-suicide.
Sharp Funeral Homes
Traverse City Record-Eagle, December 4, 2019
January 11, 1970 – October 25, 2019
Angelina Marie Winn graduated with the class of 1988 from St. Francis High School in Traverse City. After earning her Bachelor’s degree, she went on to have a 20-year career as a corrections officer with the Michigan Department of Corrections. Winn and her longtime partner Tara Kelley were found dead in their Kingsley home in a tragic murder-suicide.
Covell Funeral Home
Traverse City Record-Eagle, December 4, 2019