November 15, 1953 – October 24, 1991
Dale Allen Cramton grew up in Jackson and graduated from Parkside High School. As a first-year college student, he was founder of the Gay Liberation Front at Central Michigan University in September 1971. Cramton later moved to Los Angeles where he made a life for himself as an artist. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 37.
Jackson Citizen-Patriot, October 26, 1991
September 15, 1963 – December 16, 2007
Lansing native James Michael Nickoff was kicked out of his home at age 15. He survived on dishwashing jobs and worked his way through college, earning his B.A. in accounting at Michigan State, where he was active in the Lesbian-Gay Council. After he moved to San Francisco, he served on the founding board of Equality California and married his partner Dave Lawson in 2004. Nickoff took his own life at age 44.
Bay Area Reporter, December 27, 2007
September 2, 1954 – February 22, 2018
Wilbert Anthony “Billi” Gordon Jr. graduated from Union High School in Dowagiac, class of 1972. He left seminary to attend the University of Michigan, where he became involved in gay activism, including as spokesperson for the Ann Arbor Black Gay Caucus. Gordon went on to become a celebrated model, entertainer, writer, and neuroscientist. He was survived by his spouse of 30 years Robert Schallert.
Los Angeles Times, March 10, 2018
September 20. 1953 – December 12, 1992
Detroit native Allen Wallace majored in art history at Wayne State University and led protests in the 1970s to save the MacKenzie House, an effort that gave birth to Preservation Wayne. Wallace later worked with the Martha Graham Center in New York and as a publicity agent in Los Angeles, where he resided with his companion Michael Lombardo. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 39.
Detroit Free Press, December 17, 1992
WSU Alumni News, Winter 1993
August 24, 1942 – September 30, 2013
Linda Ann Reuther, the daughter of UAW founder Walter P. Reuther, grew up in Detroit and Rochester and earned her Bachelor’s in education from the University of Michigan in 1965. She taught head start for several years, operated a quilt store in Marin County, California, and later created a meditation retreat center to the north in Albion. Reuther was survived by her life companion Michele Tellier.
Fort Bragg Advocate-News, October 10, 2013
April 16, 1919 – April 19, 1995
Cleveland, Ohio native Ralph Anthony O’Reilly served as a Navy lieutenant in the Pacific during World War II and later landed in Detroit where he was employed as an engineer with General Motors and met his life partner of 43 years Ralph Stallings. The couple moved to Davisburg in the early 1960s and operated a Japanese bonsai nursery until they retired to southern California.
Times-Advocate, April 25, 1995
March 11, 1910 – February 8, 1994
World War II vet Ralph Thompson Stallings began working as a bellhop while attending Saginaw High School and rose in the ranks of hotels in Flint and Detroit. He met his life partner Ralph O’Reilly at a bridge party when neither played bridge. They soon shared an apartment in Detroit and later a home in Davisburg, where they raised Japanese bonsai before moving to Escondido, California in the early 1980s.
Times-Advocate, February 11, 1994
April 19, 1964 – March 23, 2020
Writer and artists Brent Dorian Carpenter was born in Detroit and graduated from Cass Tech in 1981. His entrée into Detroit’s African American LGBTQ community came in 2001 when he approached Hotter Than July planners to promote his first novel, Man of the Cloth. Carpenter became and AIDS activist and he worked as a reporter and regular columnist for Between The Lines before moving to Atlanta in 2006.
Between The Lines, April 16, 2020
April 24, 1928 – May 22, 2020
Jerry Abraham Moore grew up in Detroit, graduated from Redford High School, and attended Wayne State before being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1950. Following his military service he became immersed in Detroit’s gay bar scene and from 1958 to 1960 served as secretary of the short-lived Detroit Area Council of the Mattachine Society, the first ever formal homosexual organization in Michigan.
Between The Lines [online only], June 12, 2020
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