July 7, 1940 – October 20, 2008
Nona Diane McKenna of Dexter was born in the Upper Peninsula town of Hermansville, graduated from Roosevelt High School in Ypsilanti, earned her B.A. in physical education from Eastern Michigan University, and served in the U.S. Marines from 1961 to 1966. In 1991, she and Sally Johnson became the first same-sex couple to register as domestic partners. They married in California in 2008.
Ann Arbor News, October 23, 2008
June 21, 1953 – November 20, 2008
St. Joseph native Valerie Jean Connell became a champion horse rider during her school years, taking part in multiple horse associations and winning prizes at the Michigan State Fair. After graduating from Edwardsburg High in 1971, she joined the U.S. Army, later earned her B.S. and M.S., and went on to teach social studies in Florida. Connell was survived by her partner Lenora Ledwon.
Miami Herald, November 23, 2008
March 27, 1938 – September 21, 1994
Native Detroiter William John Thompson served in the Army, earned a Master’s from Wayne State, taught public school, and worked in advertising. He was active in multiple organizations, including ASP, MOHR, Dignity, BWMT, and MAPP. Thompson was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Detroit area Pride Banquet in 1993. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 56.
Between The Lines, November 1994
Cruise, November 9, 1994
January 5, 1946 – February 27, 1991
Garden City native Robert Joel Crane graduated from Cody High School in Detroit and earned his B.A. in art education at Eastern Michigan University. He went on to teach at the elementary level in the Southfield Public Schools. Crane and his lover James Anderson shared a home in Livonia. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 45.
Cruise, March 13, 1991
December 4, 1940 – July 6, 2020
A graduate of St. Mary’s Academy in Monroe, Sandra Lee Langeland earned her B.S. in physical education from Michigan State University in 1964. She received her Ph.D. at the University of Denver and taught psychology at the Oakland Community College Highland Lakes Campus for 29 years. Langeland and her life partner Susan Murdock shared homes un Union Lake before moving to Florida.
Oakland Press, July 10, 2020
June 23, 1928 – November 11, 2010
Illinois native Jean Shirley Cione pitched with the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from 1945 to 1954, including one year each playing with the Battle Creek Belles and the Muskegon Belles. In the off-season earned her Bachelor’s at Eastern Michigan University, where she later taught for 29 years and served as the first Women’s Athletic Director. Cione was survived by her partner Ginny Hunt.
Ann Arbor News, December 2, 2010
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