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
November 27, 1953 – January 13, 1993
James Ernest Moyski was born in Detroit, graduated in 1971 from Walled Lake Western High School, and earned his B.S. from Eastern Michigan University. He worked as a licensed cosmetologist, was active in theater and dance, and resided in Ferndale with his lover William Markel. Moyski also performed for 8 years with the Detroit Together Men’s Chorus. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 39.
Cruise, January 20, 1993
July 20, 1930 – January 21, 2009
Marjorie Ann Lyda earned her MSW from Wayne State and in 1967 became the first African-American woman to open a psychotherapy practice in Birmingham. She was one of the earliest therapists in Metro Detroit to provide positive counseling to gay clients and offered pioneering treatment for people now termed transgender. Lyda also served as pastor for churches in Ferndale and Detroit.
Detroit News, January 28, 2009
April 1, 1957 – January 4, 2015
Kevin James Rogers was born and grew up in Clinton Township in Macomb County. He resided in Lincoln Park and Detroit before moving to Ferndale, where he co-chaired Keep Our Human Rights, a group formed to combat a ballot campaign to rescind Ferndale’s newly enacted non-discrimination ordinance in 1999. Rogers owned and operated Just 4 Us in Ferndale from 2004 until his death.
Between The Lines, January 15, 2015
March 19, 1954 – January 29, 2014
Longtime HIV and AIDS educator and advocate Kaye Lourena McDuffie served as communicable disease coordinator and intervention prevention specialist for the Lansing Area AIDS Network. Born in Ferndale, she graduated from Cass Tech in Detroit before attending Lansing Community College and Michigan State University. A devoted wife and mother, McDuffie was also active in local theater.
Between The Lines, February 6, 2014
LAHR newsletter, March 2014
Riley Funeral Home
February 15, 1944 – November 3, 2014
A native of Ecuador with a Bachelor’s from Columbia University and a Master’s from American University, Ernest “Tito” Gutierrez Jr. enjoyed a 20-year career at the Kresge Foundation in Troy. While a resident of Royal Oak, Gutierrez served on the board for Affirmations and played a significant role in capital fundraising for construction of the community center’s own building in downtown Ferndale.
Between The Lines, November 13, 2014
September 24, 1964 – March 10, 2002
Ferndale resident Lawrence James Kunkle, better known as Larry, was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated in 1973 from Warren High School. He earned his Bachelor’s in advertising from Ferris State University in 1987 and worked in advertising, journalism, and computer tech. Kunkle was active in WAGS, Wonderful Animals Giving Support, and was named Mr. Detroit Eagle 2002.
Between The Lines, April 11, 2002
February 23, 1967 – October 27, 2018
Roseville resident LaVell Williams grew up in Detroit, graduated from Cooley High School, and attended the Center for Creative Studies. From 1997 to 2010, he worked at Record Time in Roseville and Ferndale and music was central to his life. Williams was co-founder of the Detroit Sound Conservancy and volunteered with the Michigan Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, AIDS Walk Detroit, and Motor City Pride.
Detroit News, October 31, 2018
Lavelle Williams, 1967-2018 at Detroit Sound Conservancy
April 17, 1934 – January 31, 2010
A native of Parkersburg, West Virginia, Suzanne “Suzie” Dowden majored in physical education at Miami University of Ohio and earned her Master’s from the University of Michigan in 1966. She taught at Eastern Michigan University and had a varied career of teaching, counseling, and coaching in Detroit, Ferndale, and Kalkaska. Dowden lived in Traverse City with her partner of 42 years Connie Riopelle.
Traverse City Record-Eagle, February 4, 2010
May 8, 1948 – January 19, 1995
Ferndale resident and pioneering AIDS activist Richard William Villaire was born in Wyandotte and attended Roseville High School and Ferris State University before earning his B.A. in psychology at Eastern Michigan University. He was an officer of the Michigan Organization for Human Rights and was a founder of Wellness Networks, Friends Alliance, and the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project.
Between The Lines, February 1995
Metra, February 15, 1995
Between The Lines, March 1995