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
March 5, 1944 – December 23, 2018
Grand Rapids native Tess Wiseheart graduated from Ottawa High School and earned her Bachelor’s at Olivet College. She began her teaching career in Milford and later taught in Grand Rapids, where she was a founding member of Aradia. For 20 years she served as coordinator for the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. After moving to Oregon in 1988, Wiseheart directed the Portland Women’s Crisis Line.
OLOC E-News, January 2019
May 22, 1936 – June 14, 2016
Born in Redding, Maine, Sherry Redding earned her B.A. from the University of Michigan and a Master’s from Michigan State University. A longtime counselor, for many years she taught women’s studies at William James College at Grand Valley State University. She was also a founding member in 1978 of the local lesbian organization Aradia. Redding and her spouse Karen Clahassey shared 36 years together.
Grand Rapids Press, June 16, 2016
July 23, 1937 – April 12, 2006
A native of Kansas, Mary Frances Fenton earned her B.F.A. at the University of Oklahoma. She later earned her M.A. at Western Michigan University, where she served a professor of graphic arts for nearly three decades. Fenton and her partner of 24 years Mary Appelhof participated in the lesbian group Aradia in Grand Rapids and were long active in the women’s community in Kalamazoo.
Lesbian Connection, September/October 2006