Ruth Ketchum

Ruth Ketchum 2 pic

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

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