February 3, 1962 – January 7, 2019
Barbara Faye Gessell was born in and spent much of her life in Ohio and held a J.D. and Bachelor’s in business administration. Her long career in human resources included managerial positions at Mercy Health Network, Toledo Edison, and the Toledo Blade. After she was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, Gessell retired to Saugatuck with her wife Jennifer Roe.
Toledo Blade, January 11, 2019
November 5, 1961 – October 22, 1994
Lifelong Lansing resident Paul Darwin Morgan, better known as Darwin, graduated from Hill High School in 1979, then attended Lansing Community College and Michigan State University. Morgan later worked as a mental health counselor and performed as an actor with the Riverwalk Theatre, the Lansing Civic Players, and Spotlight Theatre. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 32.
Lansing State Journal, October 25, 1994
July 7, 1940 – August 11, 2011
Born in Newport, Rhode Island, Marina Doukales moved with her mother to Ann Arbor in the 1960s. She later worked as a phlebotomist with the University of Michigan Hospital for 20 years. Doukales and her partner of 32 years Nora Forde resided in Whitmore Lake before retiring to Desert Hot Springs, California.
Desert Sun, August 20, 2011
November 2, 1951 – January 16, 1994
Stephen Mark Kritsick grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts and attended Michigan State University, earning his B.S. there in 1973 and his degree in veterinary medicine there in 1974. After working in the ER of a Manhattan animal hospital. For many years before his death, he was a regular pet care expert on Good Morning America on ABC. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 42.
Lansing State Journal, January 17, 1994
New York Times, January 18, 1994
September 16, 1955 – April 19, 1993
Dallas Skeet Williams Jr., from Detroit, moved to San Francisco to live a more openly gay life. He worked as a nurse and a massage therapist and became involved in modeling, bodybuilding, doing drag, photography, and performing in adult videos. As a revolutionary HIV+ union activist, he protested with ACT UP and fought police brutality. Williams lost his life to diabetes.
Bay Area Reporter, May 13 1993
April 12, 1932 – May 14, 2018
Orphaned as a child, former Detroiter Carl Mitchell joined the U.S. Army at age 17 and served as a combat medic during the Korean War. While home in Detroit on leave, he discovered the gay bars downtown, where his uniform attracted much attention. He later worked as a nurse in Detroit-area hospitals. Mitchell was survived in St. Petersburg, Florida by Robert Stanley, his partner of 48 years.
Between The Lines, May 24, 2018
April 16, 1950 – April 22, 2019
Battle Creek native Sue Ann Fitzgerald, known as “Drum Mama,” was a graduate of Lakeview High School and Central Michigan University, earning her M.S. in biology. At Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, she worked as a medical technologist for 34 years. Fitzgerald sang with the Sistrum chorus, was long active with the Girl Scouts, and regularly joined in MichFest and other womyn’s music gatherings.
Lesbian Connection September/October 2019
February 13, 1942 – March 31, 2013
Deloris Jean Riddlesprigger grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas and studied osteopathic medicine at Michigan State University, earning her doctor degree in 1980. She specialized in anesthesiology and practiced in Metro Detroit for more than three decades. Riddlesprigger and her beloved partner Barbara White shared a home in Southfield for 28 years.
Oakland Press, April 2, 2013
July 27, 1933 – March 22, 2019
Margaret “Peg” Powell was born in Lansing and served as an MP with the Women’s Army Corps during the Korean War. She raised her younger sister and two children of her own and studied to become an LPN, specializing in hospice care. Powell was active in Lansing’s lesbian community in the 1970s and 1980s before moving to Wisconsin. She was survived by Mary Kay Schleiter, her partner of 32 years.
Lesbian Connection, November/December 2019
Casey Family Options
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