Jim Klinesteker

Jim Klinesteker pic

October 7, 1957 – September 13, 1992

James Klinesteker was a zookeeper at John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids and a prominent leader in the city’s gay and lesbian community.  After attending the 1987 March on Washington, he became one of the founders of The Network and as its president helped open its community center in 1991.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 35.

Network newsletter, October 1992

Janet Thering

Janet Thering pic

September 21, 1951 – August 9, 2016

Janet Thering played varsity basketball while a student at Sacred Heart Academy in Mt. Pleasant, graduated from Aquinas College, and taught physical education in the Grand Rapids Schools for 20 years.  A founder of the Grand Rapids Women’s Chorus, Thering attended every Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival from 1976 to 2015.  She and her wife Ruth Allerton were together 16 years.

Grand Rapids Press. August 14, 2016

Morning Sun, August 17, 2016

Roger McKinney

December 1, 1960 – December 4, 1994

Detroit native Roger Alan McKinney graduated from Fraser High School in 1979.  McKinney bartended at the Back Pocket and the CCW in the early 1980s before moving to South Haven, where he worked as a nurse’s aide at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 34.

Cruise, December 14, 1994

Dennis Komac

Dennis Komac pic

November 9, 1944 – November 7, 1994

A founder of the Lesbian and Gay Community Network of West Michigan, Dennis Komac served in Army from 1968 to 1970 and moved to Grand Rapids in 1984 to serve as executive director of the Grand Rapids Art Museum.  Komac and his life partner Jeff Swanson later operated Sons and Daughters bookstore.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 49.

Network newsletter, December 1994

Sharon Schnipke

May 2, 1964 – December 14, 2014

Sharon Schnipke of Lowell graduated from Kenowa Hills High School in Grand Rapids and earned a degree in accounting from Davenport University in 1984.  She was a claims administrator with Foremost Insurance.  Schepke was preceded in death by her life partner Renee Grant.

Grand Rapids Press, December 21, 2014

Renee Grant

Renee Grant pic

December 16, 1958 – December 8, 2014

Lowell resident Renee Grant worked as an independent real estate agent in Grand Rapids.  She received support from Pink Arrow fundraisers in her seven-year battle with cancer.  She was active in various local causes and delivered Christmas boxes for the Santa Claus Girls.  Grant’s life partner Sharon Schnepke survived her by eight days.

Grand Rapids Press, December 14, 2014