November 23, 1930 – September 20, 2010
Dolores Louise Kukla of Walled Lake was born in Detroit and graduated from Western High School. She earned her B.S. in nursing from Wayne State University in 1960 and subsequently worked as an RN. In the mid-1970s, Kukla listed herself as a “contact dyke” in Lesbian Connection to serve as a resource for women in Metro Detroit. She was also involved in the Forum Foundation in the early 1990s.
Detroit News, September 26, 1990
May 27, 1949 – September 5, 2020
Sandra Lee Peckens of Harbor Springs was born in Ann Arbor and grew up in Otsego. She earned her B.A. in social work from Michigan State University in 1971 and went on for her MSW, also at MSU. Peckens career took her to hospitals in Metro Detroit and Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey. She and her longtime partner Sally Hood were united in a civil union in 2008 and legally married in 2010.
Livingston Daily Press & Argus, September 8, 2020
September 28, 1956 – February 22, 2021
Otisville resident Lauriejane Clare Smith was born in Flint, grew up in Davison, and graduated with the class of 1974 from Davison High School. After completing the criminal justice program at Mott Community College, she worked as a park ranger and later as a patrol deputy and paramedic for the Genesee County Sheriff. In 2015, Smith married her partner Patricia Lawrence-Smith, who died in 2019.
Hensen Funeral Home
December 20, 1972 – October 18, 2019
Born in Kalamazoo, Lisa Ilene Carlson graduated from Montague High School in Montague and attended Muskegon Community College. She trained as a paramedic at Great Lakes Academy in Allendale and had a 20-year career as an EMT and EMT trainer. She also enjoyed music and was a devoted fan of the Michigan Renaissance Festival. Carlson was survived by her partner Amanda Visger.
Muskegon Chronicle, October 21, 2019
October 19, 1951 – November 2, 2020
Debra Jean McGee was a master drummer and a priest of Obatala in the Yoruba faith. After moving to Michigan from New York, she worked as a coordinator at the Flushing Senior Center, received her Bachelor’s from the University of Michigan-Flint, and earned her MSW at the UM School of Social Work, specializing in geriatrics. McGee and her partner Sandy Cleomaude married in Swartz Creek in 2017.
Swartz Funeral Home
September 27, 1949 – February 1, 2014
Norma Jean Andres graduated with the class of 1967 from Chippewa High School in Clinton Township and earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Wayne State University. She worked as an EMT, hospital attendant, and vocational counselor before heading Project Hope, which provided HIV/AIDS Services in Detroit. Andres was a supporter of Affirmations and the Ruth Ellis Center.
Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons
September 19, 1934 – August 4, 1992
Born in Bay City, Jill Marilyn (Conway) Ramseyer graduated from the Henry Ford Hospital nursing program in 1955 and began work as an RN for the Genesee County Public Health Department in 1972. The first nurse in Flint to do HIV testing, she was founder and later president of Wellness HIV/AIDS Services. Ramseyer retired to Au Gres in 1991 and was survived by her husband and two children.
Flint Journal, August 5, 1992
March 30, 1944 – December 4, 2018
Randall Steven “Randy” Pope grew up in Battle Creek and earned his B.S. from the University of Michigan. He worked for the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta before returning to Michigan. During his 40-year career in public health, Pope was at the forefront of steering state governmental response to the HIV/AIDS crisis. Pope was preceded in death by his wife and survived by two sons and two stepsons.
Lansing State Journal, December 11, 2018
December 5, 1934 – October 28, 2001
A native of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Cynthia Jane (Young) Wrentmore started as a public health nurse with the Washtenaw County Department of Public Health in 1958 and became as its communicable disease coordinator in 1981. She served on the board for Wellness Networks/Huron Valley, later known as the HIV/AIDS Resource Center, and was a pioneering AIDS educator in the Ann Arbor area.
Between The Lines, November 29, 2001
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