March 27, 1959 – February 26, 2016
Debra Lynn Robinson of Sister Lakes was born in Battle Creek, graduated with the class of 1976 from Gull Lake High School, and studied at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. She worked as a master electrician at the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant and belonged to IBEW Local 131. In 2014, Robinson married her partner Patricia Cloud who preceded her in death by five months.
Battle Creek Enquirer, March 2, 2016
June 23, 1928 – November 11, 2010
Illinois native Jean Shirley Cione pitched with the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from 1945 to 1954, including one year each playing with the Battle Creek Belles and the Muskegon Belles. In the off-season earned her Bachelor’s at Eastern Michigan University, where she later taught for 29 years and served as the first Women’s Athletic Director. Cione was survived by her partner Ginny Hunt.
Ann Arbor News, December 2, 2010
October 10, 1953 – October 8, 1978
Born in Battle Creek, John Wayne Schallberg attended Climax-Scotts High School, graduated from American Beauty College, and operated the Masquerade Shop in Climax. He was a participant in the Kalamazoo Gay Liberation Front and, as Nadine, was one of several drag queens who rode the hood of a Ford in Detroit’s first pride parade in 1972. Schallberg took his own life just before his 25th birthday.
Kalamazoo Gazette, October 10, 1978
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
April 25, 1926 – September 5, 2015
Mary Elizabeth Pyle was born in Lansing and graduated from Lakeview Highland High School in Battle Creek in 1944, a member of its first graduating class. She was employed as a secretary with Post Cereals for more than 30 years and after retiring in the mid-1980s moved to Phoenix. Pyle was preceded in death by her partner of five decades Patsy Spahr and in her last years wintered back in Michigan.
Avink Funeral Home & Cremation Society
May 4, 1958 – September 5, 1994
Daniel Robert “Dannie” Lucas spent most of his life in Battle Creek before moving to Chicago in 1991. Lucas worked as a hairstylist, was long active with the Alano Club, and performed in community theater, realizing a long-held dream with his final role in “A Streetcar Named Desire” playing Stanley Kowalski. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 36.
Gay Chicago, September 22, 1994
March 14, 1939 – January 5, 2017
The supportive mother of her gay son, Dorothy Lee Lawrence was born in Albion and spent much of her life in Battle Creek. She worked as a secretary and transcriptionist before enjoying a 24-year career with the Kellogg Company, all while raising a family. After retiring to Florida, she became active with the local chapter of Parents, Friends, and Families of Lesbians and Gays.
Battle Creek Enquirer, May 9, 2017
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
May 21, 1925 – July 6, 2014
Detroit native Margaret Elnora Wenzell played nine seasons in the 1940s and 1950s for numerous teams in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, including the Grand Rapids Chicks, the Muskegon Lassies, and the Battle Creek Belles. Employed with General Motors in Michigan and later an electric company in California, she was laid to rest next to her life companion and spouse Dorothy Kamenshek.
Forest Lawn Memorial Parks & Mortuary
July 24, 1920 – February 12, 2008
Longtime Battle Creek resident Yvonne Phyllis Cushman graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School and was that city’s first female bus driver. Her other jobs included working as a machinist in an electronics factory, operating a grocery, and caring for residents at Fort Custer State Home and the Muskegon Regional Facility. A Harley rider in the 1950s, Cushman also owned and showed Great Danes.
Battle Creek Enquirer, February 14, 2008