February 3, 1938 – December 31, 2022
Violet Betty “Vy” Reed graduated with the class of 1955 from Dearborn High School. She pursued a career in education, earning her B.A. from Western Michigan University and M.A. from Michigan State, then working as a teacher and counselor in Roseville. She found community in the 1960s at Fred’s Bar and later as a member and facilitator of Silver Foxes and the Senior Koffee Klatch at Affirmations.
Detroit Free Press, January 24, 2023
Between The Lines, February 1, 2023 [online only]
May 23, 1936 – December 10, 2022
Native Detroiter Charles Robert Alexander came out into the gay world while a student at Cass Tech. He earned his B.A. at Wayne State University and had a long career with the Detroit schools. An acclaimed artist, he was active with Affirmations and MCC Detroit, and in 1997 received the local LGBTQ Lifetime Achievement Award. Alexander wrote more than 700 columns over 27 years for Between The Lines.
Between The Lines, December 22, 2022
Driving Mother Knickers
October 28, 1971 – September 4, 2010
A native of Oxford, England, Steven William Swan graduated from Grosse Pointe North high School and as a teenager took part in the Youth Group at Affirmations. He later attended Oakland Community College and held jobs at Bill Knapp’s restaurant, Jacobson’s department store, and Art Van Furniture. From 2004 to 2005 Swan as a sales representative for Between The Lines.
Between The Lines, September 23, 2010
Grosse Pointe News, September 23, 2010
July 31, 1955 – November 8, 2021
Bloomfield Hills resident and Detroit native Treva Bell Bass graduated from Cass Tech High School and pursued acting in Los Angeles. On returning to Detroit, Bass attended Specs Howard University and became a chief engineer with her family’s radio stations. Bass and June Washington, her partner of 33 years, gave generously to Affirmations, the Ruth Ellis Center, Hotter Than July, and other causes.
Between The Lines, November 25, 2021
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
July 23, 1940 – September 8, 2010
Susan Sanborn North of Troy was born in New Hampshire and graduated from Hunter College in New York. She worked as a computer programmer, author, and financial planner, and in the latter career advised bequests to numerous LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations in Metro Detroit. North was active with both Affirmations and the Triangle Foundation.
Between The Lines, September 23, 2010
September 27, 1949 – February 1, 2014
Norma Jean Andres graduated with the class of 1967 from Chippewa High School in Clinton Township and earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Wayne State University. She worked as an EMT, hospital attendant, and vocational counselor before heading Project Hope, which provided HIV/AIDS Services in Detroit. Andres was a supporter of Affirmations and the Ruth Ellis Center.
Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons
April 16, 1975 – May 20, 2002
Detroit native and homemaker Eunica Jackqulie Thurmond died of smoke inhalation during a house fire at her Lenox Street home. She was survived by her partner Nicole McDowell. Funds raised through Affirmations community center helped pay for Thurmond’s burial.
Between The Lines, June 27, 2002
November 13, 1963 – May 27, 1996
Born in Howell, Grosse Pointe Farms resident Sara Maria Briden grew up in Grosse Pointe and graduated with the class of 1981 from South High School. She later attended the Ford School of Nursing and the University of Michigan before becoming a beauty consultant and operating her own business. An active runner and swimmer, Breden was also a supporter of Affirmations Community Center.
Grosse Pointe News, May 30, 1996
October 14, 1949 – August 6, 1994
Taylor resident Larry Thomas Gaynier taught high school English and communications in Brownstown Charter Township for 22 years. A member of the Association of Suburban People in the early 1980s, Gaynier later served on the boards of Affirmations and the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 44.
Detroit Free Press, August 9, 1994
Affirmations Newsletter, September 1994