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
May 9, 1964 – April 1, 2003
Craig Edwin Case was born in Jackson and grew up in Battle Creek. After graduating from Battle Creek Central High School in 1982, he managed Custer Party Store and was later operations manager for the Battle Creek Flower Exchange. Case was united with his life partner Martin Burgess in a commitment ceremony in 1998.
Battle Creek Enquirer, April 3, 2003
August 1, 1944 – September 13, 2011
Born in Battle Creek, Sharon Kay Beck resided in Mount Morris and retired after 30 years from Saginaw Steering Gear-Delphi in 2002. She enjoyed running, her poodles, and traveling in northern Michigan with Hope, her partner of 27 years.
Flint Journal, September 18, 2011
June 19, 1933 – August 3, 2017
Silver Lee Garske, a Kalamazoo native and resident of the village of Mattawan, played fast pitch softball. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s in education from Western Michigan University and went on to teach gym for 33 years, retiring from the Harper Creek Community Schools in 1987. Garske was preceded in death by her life companion of 65 years Betty Clark.
Kalamazoo Gazette, August 6, 2017
June 14, 1932 – September 5, 2015
Battle Creek resident Betty Clark graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School in 1950 and earned her B.A. and M.A. in education from Western Michigan University. She taught elementary and junior high in the Harper Creek Community Schools from 1960 to 1986. Clark was survived by her life companion of 65 years Silver Lee Garske.
Battle Creek Enquirer, September 7, 2015
August 28, 1945 – October 17, 2014
Marvil Thomas Shaw III was born in Battle Creek, grew up in Coldwater, and attended Alma College. A celibate gay monk ordained into the priesthood in 1971, Shaw became Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts in 1995. Throughout his tenure, he advocated for minority rights, for allowing women, gay men, and lesbians to be ordained, and for other causes of social justice.
Bay Windows, October 23, 2014