October 20, 1937 – February 26, 2003
The Rev. Dr. Barbara Edith Edgecombe, a Chicago native, graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School and studied piano at the University of Michigan. While working as a piano teacher back in Chicago, she decided to train for the ministry. Edgecombe came out after graduating theological seminary and in the late 1990s served as the openly lesbian pastor of the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Greater Lansing.
Chicago Tribune, March 2, 2003
October 15, 1918 – April 28, 1994
Ruth Evelyn Sanders moved from Texas to Michigan in the early 1940s to pursue her doctorate at Michigan State University. After earning her Ph.D. in 1947, she taught microbiology at MSU as a lecturer, assistant professor, and associate professor, retiring in 1982. Sanders shared a home in Okemos for many decades with her longtime companion Lucile Portwood.
Lansing State Journal, May 1, 1994
January 16, 1952 – October 1, 2019
Arts supporter, benefactor, and retired attorney David Lyle Balas was born in Mt. Clemens, graduated from University Liggett High School, and attended universities in Ohio. He worked with the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and served on the East Lansing City Council as an openly gay member from 1983 to 1995. Balas and his future husband Jim Sellman moved to Saugatuck in 2003 and wed in 2015.
Between The Lines, October 17, 2019
December 24, 1959 – September 19, 2018
Lifelong Laingsburg resident Carrie Lynn Koonter played on the 1978 Michigan Class D High School Softball championship team and was co-founder of the Laingsburg Women’s Golf League. She worked for 25 years at Meijer in East Lansing. She and Mary McDougal were together more than 30 years and were married in 2015. Koonter died at age 58 following an extended battle with multiple sclerosis.
Lansing State Journal, September 23, 2018
January 24, 1959 – July 16, 2011
Thaddeus Allen Rusztowicz of East Lansing and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida was born in Detroit and earned his Bachelor’s in marketing in 1982 from Michigan State University. He enjoyed a long career in design, retiring as president of the auto supplier LPC Manufacturing to a new career in real estate. Rusztowicz was survived by Mark Clouse, his life partner of 21 years.
Lansing State Journal, July 19, 2011
May 21, 1948 – September 12, 2013
A graduate of the University of Michigan, Adrian Vincent practiced law in East Lansing and Chicago. As a longtime resident of Douglas, He was involved with the Saugatuck/Douglas Historical Society and enjoyed skiing, sailing, and cycling. Vincent was survived by his partner Thomas Staniszewski.
Lansing State Journal, September 18, 2013
March 11, 1934 – December 14, 2009
Joanne Rettke earned her doctorate at Michigan State University, where she served as director of the Women’s Resource Center. She helped found First Friday gatherings in the Lansing area in the mid-1970s and in 1977 played a key role in inaugurating Everywomen’s Weekend. Rettke retired to Glen Arbor, where she ran the Duneswood retreat with Marge Ives, her partner of 34 years.
Glen Arbor Sun, January 10, 2010
Lesbian Connection, March/April 2010
June 1, 1953 – October 15, 1987
Originally from Illinois, Michael Bennett earned a B.A. in linguistics from Michigan State University in 1974 and an M.A. in linguistics from MSU in 1978. At the time of his death, he was employed with the campus libraries. He died of complications from AIDS at age 34.
No known obituary.
March 17, 1948 – July 31, 1987
A native of New York, Jim O’Connell earned his B.S. in horticulture from Michigan State University in 1978. He later worked as a computer manager for MSU. He died of complications from AIDS at age 39.
No known obituary.
July 22, 1943 – August 5, 1985
William John Mathieson grew up in Grove City, Pennsylvania and attended graduate school at Michigan State University where he earned a Master’s in Spanish in 1967. He later worked as an instructor at San Francisco Community College. He died of complications from AIDS at age 42.
No known obituary.