Silver Lee Garske

Silver Lee Garske pic

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

Betty Clark

Betty Clark pic

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

Mary Fenton

Mary Fenton pic

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

Del Thusius

Del Thusius pic

May 23, 1927 – March 26, 2013

Dolore “Del” Thusius earned his Bachelor’s in music from Valaraiso University and his Master’s in education from Western Michigan University.  Thusius taught choir at Portage Central High School from 1955 to 1983 and directed annual musicals.  He shared a home in Kalamazoo with his partner of 48 years David Reichard.

Kalamazoo Gazette, March 23, 2013

Lora Yates

Lora Yates pic

December 24, 1962 – October 8, 2017

A graduate of Portage High School, Lora Yates earned her B.S. in manufacturing administration and her M.S. in engineering management from Western Michigan University.  After moving to New Jersey, she served on her local school board.  In 2010, Yates, her wife Pamela, and their twins Ella and Max relocated to Illinois, where she worked as an executive for Sysmex America.

Kalamazoo Gazette, October 15, 2017

Esmeralda Bermudez

Esmerdela Bermudez pic

December 19, 1983 – April 28, 2016

Kalamazoo resident Esmeralda Bermudez graduated from Traverse City High School in 2005, earned her associates degree from Northern Michigan College, and worked as a dental technician.  She was survived by two daughters and her wife Jade Austin Morgan.

Dignity Memorial obituary

Terry Kuseske

Terry Kuseske pic

August 18, 1949 –  September 2, 2010

A retired social studies teacher with the Dowagiac Union School District, Terry Kuseske became one of the state’s leading LGBTQ rights advocates of the new millennium.  He served on the board of the newly rechristened Equality Michigan, led a successful ballot initiative to secure a gay-rights ordinance in Kalamazoo, and won a seat as an openly gay candidate to the Kalamazoo City Commission.

Kalamazoo Gazette, September 2, 2010