Michelle Luce

April 4, 1971 – October 18, 2009

Born in South Bend, Indiana, Michelle Roxann Maureen Luce attended Loy Norris High School in Kalamazoo, and later moved to Lennon, where she resided for her last 13 years.  Luce was survived by her daughter MaKayla and by her partner Mary Ann Posante.

Kalamazoo Gazette, October 21, 2009

Michael Scott

Michael Scott pic

June 26, 1947 – December 7, 2010

Michael David Scott was born in Lansing and graduated from Central High School in Kalamazoo in 1966.  He later worked as a chef in Lansing and at Michigan State University.  Scott was a noted local drag performer and in June 1972 won the Miss Capital City title at a pageant held at Joe Covello’s.  Days later he led the first-ever Pride parade down Woodward in Detroit and sang at the rally in Kennedy Square.

Lansing State Journal, December 13, 2010

Barbara Edgecombe

Barbara Edgecombe pic

October 20, 1937 – February 26, 2003

The Rev. Dr. Barbara Edith Edgecombe, a Chicago native, graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School and studied piano at the University of Michigan.  While working as a piano teacher back in Chicago, she decided to train for the ministry.  Edgecombe came out after graduating theological seminary and in the late 1990s served as the openly lesbian pastor of the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Greater Lansing.

Chicago Tribune, March 2, 2003

Micheal Koutz

Micheal Koutz pic

January 13, 1951 – July 17, 2019

Owosso native and world traveler Micheal Eugene Koutz graduated with the Hastings High School class of 1969 and went on to Central Michigan University.  Following two decades with Adventure Travel in Kalamazoo, Koutz and Michael LoPresto established Experts Travel in 1994.  The two were also husbands and life partners, together for 39 years.

Kalamazoo Gazette, July 21, 2019

Frederick Lake

Frederick Lake pic

May 13, 1930 – June 28, 2002

Born in Kalamazoo, Frederick Allen Lake graduated with the high school class of 1949 from Bay City Central.  We went on to apprenticed in the craft of organ building in Hamburg, Germany and was employed by pipe organ firms in Saginaw and Illinois before moving to San Francisco to work as a voicer for Schoenstein & Company.  Lake corresponded with ONE magazine from Bay City in the mid-1960s.

The Diapason, February 12, 2003

Lisa Carlson

Lisa Carlson pic

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

John Schallberg

John Schallberg pic

October 10, 1953 – October 8, 1978

Born in Battle Creek, John Wayne Schallberg attended Climax-Scotts High School, graduated from American Beauty College, and operated the Masquerade Shop in Climax.  He was a participant in the Kalamazoo Gay Liberation Front and, as Nadine, was one of several drag queens who rode the hood of a Ford in Detroit’s first pride parade in 1972.  Schallberg took his own life just before his 25th birthday.

Kalamazoo Gazette, October 10, 1978

Jean Roberts

Jean Roberts pic

July 3, 1923 – August 31, 2020

Mt. Pleasant resident Jean Roberts grew up on a farm in rural Iowa and attended Western Michigan University, where she played tuba in the symphony.  She went on to teach physical education in Kalamazoo and at Comstock High School and later worked as a counselor in the Reed City schools.  For 15 years, Roberts and her life partner Janet Bush operated J & J Leather.

Morning Sun, September 1, 2020

Jere Van Syoc

Jere Van Syoc pic

April 22, 1935 – January 6, 2018

Painter, sculptor, and pioneering filmmaker Jere Van Syoc graduated from Lincoln High in Ferndale.  She went on to earn her B.A. and M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and later taught at Western Michigan University and Nazareth College.  In 1977, Van Syoc co-founded Aradia in Grand Rapids, where her home was known as “a palace for the goddess.”  She died at age 82 in West Virginia.

High Lawn Funeral Home

Jere Van Syoc Collection at The Woman Behind the Camera

Martha VanderEyk

Martha VanderEyk pic

February 21, 1942 – November 15, 2011

Grand Rapids resident Martha VanderEyk immigrated from the Netherlands at age six with her family.  She graduated from Kalamazoo Christian High School in 1960, attended Calvin College, and earned her Bacherlor’s in Music from Grand Valley State University.  VanderEyke was employed as a business manager and was a longtime member, with her partner Leslie Kohn, of the Grand Rapids Women’s Chorus.

Grand Rapids Press, November 23, 2011