April 16, 1916 – February 17, 1991
Kalamazoo resident Floyd James “Jim” Spikings was born in Lawton, worked for the railroad in Chicago, and served in the Army during World War II. He later worked as an assembler for the Kozy Coach Company in Kalamazoo and for many years was employed by Musselman’s apple orchards cooperative in Paw Paw. Spikings was also a correspondent with the homophile organization ONE.
Paw Paw Courier-Leader, February 22, 1991
February 11, 1956 – April 8, 2014
Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Victor Line was longtime co-owner with his life partner Robert Wiley of Tradewinds nightclub and Triangle World bookstore in Kalamazoo. Both were also strong supporters of what was then known as the Kalamazoo Gay/Lesbian Resource Center.
Kalamazoo Gazette, April 10, 2014
February 2, 1931 – September 28, 2011
Nydia Jane Nichols grew up in Plainwell, graduated from Plainwell High School, and worked in bookkeeping and accounting. In her later years, she and her life partner Patricia Cutshaw shared a home in Kalamazoo.
Kalamazoo Gazette, October 5, 2011
June 18, 1929 – April 28, 2016
Gobles High School graduate Ruth Evonne Ketchum attended Western Michigan University and worked for many years at Upjohn pharmaceuticals. She played on the Brodys competitive fast-pitch softball team as catcher. Ketchum also took part in Kalamazoo’s annual Pride parade, attended Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and belonged to Phoenix Community Church.
Kalamazoo Gazette, May 1, 2016
June 19, 1933 – August 3, 2017
Silver Lee Garske, a Kalamazoo native and resident of the village of Mattawan, played fast pitch softball. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s in education from Western Michigan University and went on to teach gym for 33 years, retiring from the Harper Creek Community Schools in 1987. Garske was preceded in death by her life companion of 65 years Betty Clark.
Kalamazoo Gazette, August 6, 2017
June 14, 1932 – September 5, 2015
Battle Creek resident Betty Clark graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School in 1950 and earned her B.A. and M.A. in education from Western Michigan University. She taught elementary and junior high in the Harper Creek Community Schools from 1960 to 1986. Clark was survived by her life companion of 65 years Silver Lee Garske.
Battle Creek Enquirer, September 7, 2015
July 23, 1937 – April 12, 2006
A native of Kansas, Mary Frances Fenton earned her B.F.A. at the University of Oklahoma. She later earned her M.A. at Western Michigan University, where she served a professor of graphic arts for nearly three decades. Fenton and her partner of 24 years Mary Appelhof participated in the lesbian group Aradia in Grand Rapids and were long active in the women’s community in Kalamazoo.
Lesbian Connection, September/October 2006