August 31, 1958 – April 20, 1999
Deborah Sue Powell of Adrian was born in Illinois, spent part of her childhood in Toledo, Ohio, and studied fisheries and wildlife at Kent State. She later served as a cook in the U.S. Air Force and was an assembly line worker at the Ford Automotive plant in Rawsonville. Powell was survived by former partners Deb Harkins and Cheryl Zupan.
Between The Lines, April 29, 1999
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
October 10, 1953 – December 15, 2019
Toledo, Ohio native Susan Sharon Bright graduated high school in 1971 and worked for Chrysler Motors for 30 years. A University of Michigan sports fan, she also enjoyed biking and fishing. Bright resided in Temperance with her loving wife Betty Jackson.
J. Gilbert Purse Funeral Home
May 21, 1925 – July 6, 2014
Detroit native Margaret Elnora Wenzell played nine seasons in the 1940s and 1950s for numerous teams in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, including the Grand Rapids Chicks, the Muskegon Lassies, and the Battle Creek Belles. Employed with General Motors in Michigan and later an electric company in California, she was laid to rest next to her life companion and spouse Dorothy Kamenshek.
Forest Lawn Memorial Parks & Mortuary
July 24, 1920 – February 12, 2008
Longtime Battle Creek resident Yvonne Phyllis Cushman graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School and was that city’s first female bus driver. Her other jobs included working as a machinist in an electronics factory, operating a grocery, and caring for residents at Fort Custer State Home and the Muskegon Regional Facility. A Harley rider in the 1950s, Cushman also owned and showed Great Danes.
Battle Creek Enquirer, February 14, 2008
October 2, 1910 – August 26, 1972
Henry Bernard Bertschinger was born in Detroit and later resided in Roseville and Mount Clemens. Prior to World War II, he worked as a baker and in the late 1950s he held a factory job at Bundy Tubing in Warren. In 1947, Bertschinger was arrested for accosting an undercover Detroit police officer.
No known obituary
October 11, 1925 – Jun 19, 2012
Jerry Mae Palmer served as a role model for masculine-identified lesbians in Detroit’s African American LGBTQ community. Born in Alabama, she later moved to Michigan where she worked on the line as an assembler for one the automobile manufacturers. Before her death at age 86, Palmer and her friends provided vital safe spaces for people to proudly be themselves through a variety of social events.
Stinson Funeral Home
October 24, 1944 – August 24, 1993
Detroit resident and Highland Park native Edward Walker grew up in Dearborn Township. He joined the U.S. Army following high school and was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds he received while serving in Vietnam. During the 1970s, he worked as an assembler at Ford Motor Company. From 1980 until his death, Walker operated the Hayloft Saloon with his lover Len Lippert.
Cruise, September 22, 1993
April 16, 1916 – February 17, 1991
Kalamazoo resident Floyd James “Jim” Spikings was born in Lawton, worked for the railroad in Chicago, and served in the Army during World War II. He later worked as an assembler for the Kozy Coach Company in Kalamazoo and for many years was employed by Musselman’s apple orchards cooperative in Paw Paw. Spikings was also a correspondent with the homophile organization ONE.
Paw Paw Courier-Leader, February 22, 1991
June 21, 1951 – February 13, 2018
Born in DeWitt, Juliana Daberkow attended DeWitt High School and Davenport University and later worked as an assembly line worker at Steelcase in Grand Rapids. She was survived by her life partner of more than 24 years Nancy Botsford.
Grand Rapids Press, February 18, 2018