July 3, 1923 – August 31, 2020
Mt. Pleasant resident Jean Roberts grew up on a farm in rural Iowa and attended Western Michigan University, where she played tuba in the symphony. She went on to teach physical education in Kalamazoo and at Comstock High School and later worked as a counselor in the Reed City schools. For 15 years, Roberts and her life partner Janet Bush operated J & J Leather.
Morning Sun, September 1, 2020
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
February 2, 1944 – April 3, 1995
David John Zechel of Farmington Hills was born in Detroit and graduated from Edwin Denby High School in 1962. He went on to work as a noted local interior decorator. In the early 1970s, along with his then partner, Rev. Robert Cullinan, Zechel was an early member of the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 51.
Detroit Free Press, April 5, 1995
April 25, 1950 – January 21, 1991
Randy Hutton McGinn of Key West, Florida graduated with the Owosso High School class of 1968 and went on to attend Michigan State University and the Virginia Ferrell School of Cosmetology in St. Clair Shores. McGinn owned Randy’s Coiffer’s in Owosso and previously operated The Ultimate Image in Lansing. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 40.
Key West Citizen, January 22, 1991
March 23, 1952 – March 5, 2009
Pleasant Ridge resident Gaye Ann Leeny grew up in Detroit. She was employed as a designer of prototypes in the automotive industry and also operated Rainbow Graphics in Hazel Park. In 1986, she joined with five others to establish Windover Resort, an all-women’s campground near the Thumb village of Owendale. Leeny was survived by her loving partner Janie Plunkett Henderson.
December 13, 1957 – May 9, 2000
The owner and operator of Boomers Deli, Carol Jane Newberg was a 1976 graduate of Dearborn High School and went on to become one of Royal Oak’s most beloved business women. Through the last year and a half of her life, as she battled cancer, Newberg was cared for by her close-knit circle of friends. She was survived by her partner Gail Green.
Between The Lines, May 18, 2000
Eulogy for Carol Newberg
June 20, 1961 – December 12, 1992
William Harrison Ashley graduated with the class of 1979 from Pontiac Central High School. In 1983, Ashley was one of three partners who opened Chosen Books in its original location on McNichols in Detroit. Ashley left the business in 1987 and moved to Ohio, later settling in Washington, DC. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 31.
Cruise, February 3, 1993
July 21, 1930 – March 13, 2018
Betsy Ann Boyette was born in rural North Carolina and served as a radio operator in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War before attending DeVry Technical Institute in Chicago as its first female graduate. In the mid-1980s, she started her own interior decorator business, retiring to Saugatuck in 2002. Boyette and her spouse Dianne Wendt were together 43 years and married in 2015.
Commercial Record, March 22, 2018
February 4, 1938 – February 27, 2009
Portia June Fagan was born in Kalamazoo, attended Richland High School, graduated from Western Michigan University, and had a long career as a tax preparer and real estate broker. In 1994, she came out as lesbian in the Kalamazoo Gazette to “break down stereotypes.” Fagan and her life partner Janice O’Dell retired to Arizona in the early 2000s.
Kalamazoo Gazette, March 11, 2009
September 23, 1948 – August 7, 2012
Kalamazoo nutritionist Diana Zhenhua Artz-Iffland earned her B.S. from Western Michigan University and her M.S. from Michigan State University. She was a longtime member of the People’s Church and, with her life partner River Artz-Iffland, was active in the pioneering local lesbian organization Lavender Morning. For 18 years the couple operated Pandora’s Books for Open Minds.