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

Kelly Miller

Kelly Miller pic

June 18, 1962 – July 12, 2012

A native of Flint, Kelly Miller moved to Kalamazoo in 1998 and worked with State Farm Insurance.  As a tireless “PFLAG mom,” she volunteered for various local LGBT causes, including the Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center, the annual Pride celebration, and an anti-bullying campaign through her job.

Between The Lines, July 26, 2012

June Peppas

June Peppas pic

June 6, 1929 – March 14, 2016

From 1948 to 1954, June Ann Peppas played first base and as a pitcher with the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, including the Battle Creek Belles and the Kalamazoo Lassies teams.  She earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Western Michigan University and later operated PJ’s Printing in Allegan with her life partner of 46 years, Polly Huitt.

TC Palm, March 20, 2016

Kristin Cookson

Kristin Cookson pic

August 2, 1943 – February 13, 2017

Port Huron native Kristin Cookson attended Jackson High School and earned her B.S. in veterinary medicine from Michigan State University in 1965 and the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from MSU in 1967.  She and her wife Suzanne Marie Lohrberg were together 49 years.

Kalamazoo Gazette, February 19, 2017

Polly Huitt

September 3, 1931 – December 26, 2007

A native of Allegan, Marietta “Polly” Huitt earned her B.S. and M.A. from Western Michigan University and taught at Nazareth College and in the Kalamazoo Public Schools.  She and her life partner June Peppas later operated the JP Printing Company in Allegan before retiring to Florida in 1990.

TC Palm, December 30, 2007

Bella Bruinekool

bella-bruinekool-pic

November 3, 1999 – May 19, 2013

Weeks after posting a YouTube video describing herself as a lesbian, eighth-grader Isabella “Bella” Bruinekool took her own life.  An honor roll student at Milwood Magnet School in Kalamazoo, she enjoyed reading, skateboarding, photography, baking, and her friends.

Between The Lines, June 6, 2013