January 9, 1962 – November 7, 1995
Actor, director, playwright, and Grand Rapids native Michael Gerard Barto of Chicago earned his B.A. in theater at the University of Michigan-Flint. In 1987, while pursuing his M.F.A. at the University of Iowa, Barto directed and co-wrote The Wizard of AIDS, which was performed more than 700 times over seven years throughout the Midwest. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 33.
Chicago Tribune, November 11, 1995
February 12, 1943 – November 24, 2014
Rockford resident Patricia “Patti” Gibbs graduated with the class of 1961 from Central High School in Grand Rapids and retired from Quest Diagnostics. She was a longtime member of Reconciliation Metropolitan Community Church and served as one of its directors.
Reyers North Valley Chapel
April 1, 1963 – September 20, 2019
The first female player on the Little League baseball team in Spring Lake Park, Minnesota, Sarah Ann Flick was born in Chicago and lived in Grand Rapids in the late 1980s. She spent 18 years in law enforcement, retiring in 2017 from the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department. Flick passed away from cancer at the home she shared in Ada, Michigan with her wife Heidi Gidley.
Holland Sentinel, September 28, 2019
July 22, 1958 – July 1, 2015
Pamela Lee Chamberlain of Gaithersburg, Maryland earned her B.S. in animal husbandry from Michigan State University in 1982 and went on to graduate from the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine in 1987. After working in small veterinary practice in Sturgis in St. Joseph County, she began an esteemed career with the Food and Drug Administration. Chamberlain was survived by her spouse Teri Gilger.
Grand Rapids Press, July 9, 2015
May 4, 1932 – October 19, 2012
In 1953 and 1954 Barbara Jean “Barb” Sowers played outfrield with Muskegon Belles and the Grand Rapids Chicks in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Born in Detroit, she grew up in Livonia and retired as a high school counselor with the Livonia schools, where she headed the teachers’ union in the mid-1970s. Sowers was preceded in death by Shirley Weaver, her companion of 45 years.
Roberson Funeral Home and Crematory
April 5, 1939 – March 9, 2018
Robert Francis “Bobby” Schorle was an icon in the Grand Rapids gay community. Schorle was longtime co-owner of various bars, including the Carousel Lounge, Turn About, Carousel II, and the Cell. He was also instrumental in creating the local Queen of Hearts pageant. Born in Chicago, Schorle grew up on a fruit farm in Fennville and graduated from Fennville High School in 1957.
Chappell Funeral Home
November 29, 1970 – November 3, 2016
Melissa Sorber Schout graduated from Grand Rapids Baptist High School in the class of 1988. She later lived in Chicago before settling in Flowery Branch, Georgia outside Atlanta. Schout was employed with RxSleep and was survived by her spouse Alicia Addington.
Grand Rapids Press, November 6, 2016