Thelma James

Thelma James pic

May 30, 1899 – January 23, 1988

Thelma Gray James graduated with high distinction from the University of Michigan in 1920.  She joined the faculty of the College of the City of Detroit, forerunner of Wayne State University, in 1923, retiring from Wayne in 1967 as a pioneering folklorist.  James shared various Detroit homes with her close partner of 40 years Marguerite Hicks.

Detroit Free Press, January 24, 1988

Eva McKinley West

Eva McKinley West pic

March 30, 1889 – August 25, 1970

Born in Hannibal, Missouri, Eva McKinley West earned her Bachelor’s degree at Wellesley College and Master’s at Columbia University.  From 1927 to 1964, she chaired the English Department at the University Liggett School.  West shared homes in Detroit and Grosse Pointe Woods for more than 35 years with Liggett headmistress Katharine Ogden.

Grosse Pointe News, August 27, 1970

Katharine Ogden

Katharine Ogden pic

October 20, 1896 – March 6, 1991

Longtime headmistress at the Liggett School, later known as the University Liggett School, Katharine Ogden was born in Ithaca, New York, received her B.S. at Vassar College, and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois.  For more than 35 years, she resided in Detroit and Grosse Pointe Woods with her friend and companion Eva McKinley West, who preceded Ogden in death.

Grosse Pointe News, March 14, 1991

Dennis Duvall

Dennis Duvall pic

March 8, 1961 – August 31, 1992

Dennis Wayne Duvall was born in Monroe, earned a B.S. in Arts Management from Eastern Michigan University, and worked as a manager for Frames Unlimited.  In the persona of Lisa Carlisle, Duvall performed at the Rubaiyat and Nectarine Ballroom in Ann Arbor and at such bars as Backstreet, the Deck, Gigi’s, and the Pink Flamingo in Detroit.  Duvall won the Miss Gay Ann Arbor title for 1985-86.

Cruise, September 9, 1992

Michigan Tribune, September 1992

Lewis Treece

Lewis Treece pic

January 21, 1929 – November 21, 1953

A native of Morristown, Tennessee, Lewis Shields Treece served for a time in the U.S. military and entertained as part of the Black Drag revue at Uncle Tom’s Plantation on Eight Mile Road in Detroit in the early 1950s.  He was killed in an auto crash at age 24 following a performance at the night club.

Detroit Tribune, November 28, 1953

Michigan Chronicle, November 28, 1953

Erroll Hert

Erroll Hert pic

January 22, 1943 – June 23, 2005

Erroll Wayne Hert took his mother’s name Vaunda for his stage name, wowing audiences as the renowned Vaunda Lee at Menjo’s, the Gold Coast, Triple XXX, and other Detroit bars in the 1970s and 1980s.  He won the Camp Prize from the Performer Awards of Detroit in 1982.  Hert resided in his hometown of Bedford, Indiana at the time of his death.

Our Community Roots

Columbus Howard

July 9. 1924 – February 19, 1999

Born in Detroit, Columbus Howard spent much of his life in Inkster and served in the U.S. Army during World War II.  In 1958, while employed as a 33-year-old stockroom worker at Montgomery Ward in Dearborn, Howard was prosecuted for gross indecency after being caught with another man in Detroit’s Rouge Park.

No known obituary