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
April 3, 1958 – May 1, 2020
Maureen “Mo” Kay Doyle was born in Lowell and graduated from Lowell High School in 1976 before pursuing a Bachelor’s in education and health at Northern Michigan University. She taught and worked as a camp counselor before taking up a 30-year career as a delivery driver for UPS. Doyle and Peggy Michmershuizen were married in August 2016 and shared a home in northwest Grand Rapids.
Grand Rapids Press, May 2, 2020
February 21, 1942 – November 15, 2011
Grand Rapids resident Martha VanderEyk immigrated from the Netherlands at age six with her family. She graduated from Kalamazoo Christian High School in 1960, attended Calvin College, and earned her Bacherlor’s in Music from Grand Valley State University. VanderEyke was employed as a business manager and was a longtime member, with her partner Leslie Kohn, of the Grand Rapids Women’s Chorus.
Grand Rapids Press, November 23, 2011
March 5, 1944 – December 23, 2018
Grand Rapids native Tess Wiseheart graduated from Ottawa High School and earned her Bachelor’s at Olivet College. She began her teaching career in Milford and later taught in Grand Rapids, where she was a founding member of Aradia. For 20 years she served as coordinator for the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. After moving to Oregon in 1988, Wiseheart directed the Portland Women’s Crisis Line.
OLOC E-News, January 2019
March 29, 1948 – September 20, 2018
Betty Jane Martin, a lifelong Caledonia resident, graduated from Caledonia High School and earned her MSW from Grand Valley State University. Her career encompassed worked with the YWCA, Pine Rest Christian Hospital, and her brother’s dairy farm. Martin served as board president for Reconciliation Metropolitan Community Church in Grand Rapids where she also played drums in the church band.
Grand Rapids Press, September 23, 2018
October 26, 1942 – January 15, 2018
Traverse City resident Gwen Sanford grew up in Grand Rapids, studied at Grand Rapids Junior College and Valparasio Technical Institute, and served as a trooper and diving instructor with the Michigan State Police from 1966 to 1992. After retiring, the former Glenn transitioned to Gwen and later served on the board of Friends North. Sanford was survived by her wife Carol Larson and three children.
Traverse City Record-Eagle, January 21, 2018
October 17, 1954 – December 11, 2018
Gary Scott Davis, a resident of Palm Springs, California since 2004, attended the Grand Rapids public schools and graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana. He had a long career with the Blackmer division of Dover manufacturers in Grand Rapids. Davis met his future husband Eric Duran in the early 1980s and the two were together more than 35 years.
Grand Rapids Press, April 24, 2019
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
August 25, 1964 – January 3, 1997
Mount Clemens native Gerald Mark “Gerry” Crane graduated from Mount Clemens High School and attended Grand Rapids Baptist College and Calvin College. He taught high school music in Byron Center and was loved by his students, but officials hounded him from his job in 1996 when parents learned that he and his partner Randy Block held a commitment ceremony. Crane died from a heart attack at age 32.
Between The Lines, February 1997
Michigan Radio segment on Private Love, Public School: Gay Teacher Under Fire
September 4, 1993 – June 11, 2019
Grand Rapids resident Alice Joy Anderson was born in Holland. Anderson’s creativity drew her to mythology, literature, music, architecture, history, and photography, and a passion for LEGO building blocks. Her studies took her to India and Iceland. At age 16, Anderson entered Hope College, where she worked as a set carpenter in the Theater Department and earned her B.A. in studio art in 2016.
Holland Sentinel, June 21, 2019