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
April 15, 1928 – September 30, 2014
Born in Highland Park, Caryl Pauline Freeman grew up in Sturgis and graduated with the class of 1946 from Sturgis High School. She earned her B.A. at Michigan State, her M.A. from Harvard, and her doctorate at New York University. She later joined the faculty of the Western Michigan University College of Business, retiring in 1987. Freeman was survived by her partner Marcia Mascolini of Portage.
Redmond Funeral Home
January 23, 1947 – July 20, 2020
Marie Anne Hansen was born in Mt. Pleasant and earned her Bachelor’s in human ecology at Michigan State University. She later got her Masters and had a long career in student affairs in Colorado, Nebraska, and at MSU. She was a beloved part the Lansing area lesbian community and was longtime coordinator of the local women and arts festival. Hansen was survived by her wife Priscilla Feigenbaum.
Lansing State Journal, July 25, 2020
December 20, 1922 – August 6, 2019
Lake Ann resident and Clare native Betty Jane Finout worked on the assembly line in Flint during World War II and earned her B.S. from Central Michigan University. She went on to coach and teach physical education at schools in Fenton, Holly, Lake Fenton, and Owosso. Finout enjoyed an active retirement into her 90s and was survived by two children and by longtime partner Samantha Niergarth.
Lesbian Connection, January/February 2020
May 25, 1939 – September 17, 2017
Born in Mason, Karen Anne Knudstrup graduated from Mason High School, earned her Bacherlor’s in social science in 1961 at Michigan State University, and went on to teach physical education in Catholic and public high schools in Chicago. She was a delegate in the teacher’s union and also served in the U.S. Navy Reserves. Knudstrup was survived by Diana Haskell, her partner of 52 years.
Chicago Tribune, September 30, 2017
April 5, 1934 – September 25, 2012
Mancelona resident Therese Marie Bluhm attended Detroit parochial schools, received her Bachelor’s at Marygrove College, and earned her Masters at the University of Detroit. After teaching public school she moved to Massachusetts in the early 1960s and had a 33-year career with the Silver Burdett Ginn textbook company. Bluhm was preceded in death by her beloved partner Elizabeth Houston.
Boston Globe, September 26, 2012
Bedford Funeral Home
January 22, 1927 – June 1, 1989
Fredrica Kathryn Bartz graduated from Flint Central High School in 1943. After divorcing her husband, she received her B.A. from the Flint College of the University of Michigan. She later earned her M.A. at UM-Ann Arbor and her Ph.D. from MSU. She taught English at UM-Flint for 22 years, and at her death was chair of the department. Bartz shared a home in Montrose with her companion Mary Ellen Raleigh.
Memo, June 26, 1989
April 18, 1934 – August 17, 2019
George Russell Francoeur of Bloomfield Township graduated from Highland Park High School, studied design at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and earned his MFA from the University of Michigan. He later taught art history at Henry Ford Community College for 30 years. Francoeur was preceded in death in 2007 by his life partner of 42 years Gerald “Jerry” Earls.
Lynch & Sons Funeral Directors
April 22, 1935 – January 6, 2018
Painter, sculptor, and pioneering filmmaker Jere Van Syoc graduated from Lincoln High in Ferndale. She went on to earn her B.A. and M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and later taught at Western Michigan University and Nazareth College. In 1977, Van Syoc co-founded Aradia in Grand Rapids, where her home was known as “a palace for the goddess.” She died at age 82 in West Virginia.
High Lawn Funeral Home
Jere Van Syoc Collection at The Woman Behind the Camera
July 5, 1940 – April 2, 2019
Suzanne Cumberworth Gary was an Indiana native and graduated from Grosse Pointe High School. At the University of Michigan, she earned her B.A. and won the prestigious Hopwood Award for her poetry in 1960 and 1961. Following college, she drove to San Francisco and stayed, discovering lesbian feminism and teaching in Alameda, California. Gary was survived by her partner of 18 years Laura Bock.
Lesbian Connection, September/October 2019