February 4, 1938 – February 27, 2009
Portia June Fagan was born in Kalamazoo, attended Richland High School, graduated from Western Michigan University, and had a long career as a tax preparer and real estate broker. In 1994, she came out as lesbian in the Kalamazoo Gazette to “break down stereotypes.” Fagan and her life partner Janice O’Dell retired to Arizona in the early 2000s.
Kalamazoo Gazette, March 11, 2009
November 4, 1951 – November 23, 2015
Linda Eileen Gesterling was born in Bixby Knolls, California and resided in Glendale, Arizona when she passed away. In the 1980s she lived in Lansing, where she was employed with the Social Security Administration and was a 1990 graduate of Michigan State University. Gesterling was survived by her spouse Lisa Howell.
Kalamazoo Gazette, December 1, 2015
September 23, 1948 – August 7, 2012
Kalamazoo nutritionist Diana Zhenhua Artz-Iffland earned her B.S. from Western Michigan University and her M.S. from Michigan State University. She was a longtime member of the People’s Church and, with her life partner River Artz-Iffland, was active in the pioneering local lesbian organization Lavender Morning. For 18 years the couple operated Pandora’s Books for Open Minds.
April 10, 1947 – February 4, 2018
Paulettia Ann French of Kalamazoo, originally from Arkansas, graduated with the class of 1965 from Berrien Springs High School and later worked as non-profit directors for senior services. French and her partner of 27 years Tammy Vollrath were married in 2016.
Kalamazoo Gazette, February 6, 2018
September 22, 1946 – June 27, 2011
A dedicated and influential figure in Kalamazoo’s LGBTQ community, Jim Knox was co-founder in 1985 of Community AIDS Resource and Education Services and co-founder in 1987 of the Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center, later renamed OutFront Kalamazoo. Knox was also a longtime employee of the Barn Theatre in Augusta.
Between The Lines, July 7, 2011
Kalamazoo Gazette, July 8, 2011
June 11, 1936 – May 4, 2005
Known as the “Worm Woman,” Kalamazoo resident Nary Arlene Appelhof became a world-renowned expert on using earthworms for composting. She was born in Detroit, grew up in Alma, and attended high school in Ohio. She earned a B.S. and two Masters from Michigan State and taught in Kalamazoo and at Interlochen. Appelhof was survived by her partner of 27 years Mary Frances Fenton.
Kalamazoo Gazette, May 5, 2005
Lesbian Connection, September/October 2006
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