Jim Knox

Jim Knox pic

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

Mary Appelhof

Mary Appelhof pic

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

Between The Lines, May, 19, 2005

Lesbian Connection, September/October 2006

Floyd Spikings

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

Victor Line

Victor Line pic

February 11, 1956 – April 8, 2014

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Victor Line was longtime co-owner with his life partner Robert Wiley of Tradewinds nightclub and Triangle World bookstore in Kalamazoo.  Both were also strong supporters of what was then known as the Kalamazoo Gay/Lesbian Resource Center.

Kalamazoo Gazette, April 10, 2014

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