Mable Stewart Merritt

mable stewart merritt pic

September 8, 1925 – December 19, 2017

Born in upstate New York, Mable Stewart Merritt moved with her family as a child to Grosse Pointe, where she graduated from high school.  She worked as a typesetter for the United Auto Workers union for 40 years.  Merritt was interviewed by Roey Thorpe in 1992 about her involvement in lesbian life in Detroit during the 1950s.

Kansas City Star, January 3, 2018

LaVell Williams

Lavell Williams pic

February 23, 1967 – October 27, 2018

Roseville resident LaVell Williams grew up in Detroit, graduated from Cooley High School, and attended the Center for Creative Studies.  From 1997 to 2010, he worked at Record Time in Roseville and Ferndale and music was central to his life.  Williams was co-founder of the Detroit Sound Conservancy and volunteered with the Michigan Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, AIDS Walk Detroit, and Motor City Pride.

Detroit News, October 31, 2018

Facebook Obituary by Carleton Gholz

Kelly Stough

Kelly Stough 2 pic

November 2, 1982 – December 7, 2018

Detroit native Kelly Stough, also known as Keanna Mattel, was shot and killed in an anti-trans murder on E. McNichols near Palmer Park.  She attended MacKenzie High School and was active in Detroit’s ballroom scene as part of the Legendary Iconic House of Ebony.  Police arrested and charged a Sterling Heights pastor for Stough’s death.

Detroit News, December 10, 2018

Between The Lines, December 13, 2018

Suzie Dowden

April 17, 1934 – January 31, 2010

A native of Parkersburg, West Virginia, Suzanne “Suzie” Dowden majored in physical education at Miami University of Ohio and earned her Master’s from the University of Michigan in 1966.  She taught at Eastern Michigan University and had a varied career of teaching, counseling, and coaching in Detroit, Ferndale, and Kalkaska.  Dowden lived in Traverse City with her partner of 42 years Connie Riopelle.

Traverse City Record-Eagle, February 4, 2010

Tony Maniaci

Tony Maniaci pic

August 5, 1984 – March 7, 2013

Pleasant Ridge resident Anthony Leonard Maniaci was born in Detroit.  He worked as a popular bartender at Menjo’s and Backstreet in Detroit, and at Pronto in Royal Oak.  At the time of his death, Maniaci was manager at Inuendo.

OutPost, March 13, 2013

Jim Beates

Jim Beates pic

December 9, 1954 – June 13, 1999

Raised in a military family, Rev. James Joseph Beates earned his theology degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  He moved to Michigan from West Falls, New York and lived in Detroit and Garden City.  Beates was the first openly gay pastor to serve in the Presbytery of Detroit and was active in Friends Alliance.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 44.

Detroit Free Press, June 16, 1999

Cruise, June 23, 1999

Chester Cislo

Chester Cislo pic

July 13, 1945 – September 5, 1994

Chester Cislo attended St. Casimir High School on Detroit’s West Side and worked as a sexton at St. James Catholic Church in Ferndale.  Cislo represented the Detroit Together Men’s Chorus on the Detroit Area Gay/Lesbian Council, was active with Wellness Networks and the NAMES Project, and served on the board for Friends Alliance.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 49.

Cruise, September 28, 1994