Yvonne Cushman

July 24, 1920 – February 12, 2008

Longtime Battle Creek resident Yvonne Phyllis Cushman graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School and was that city’s first female bus driver.  Her other jobs included working as a machinist in an electronics factory, operating a grocery, and caring for residents at Fort Custer State Home and the Muskegon Regional Facility.  A Harley rider in the 1950s, Cushman also owned and showed Great Danes.

Battle Creek Enquirer, February 14, 2008

Bill Ashley

Bill Ashley pic

June 20, 1961 – December 12, 1992

William Harrison Ashley graduated with the class of 1979 from Pontiac Central High School.  In 1983, Ashley was one of three partners who opened Chosen Books in its original location on McNichols in Detroit.  Ashley left the business in 1987 and moved to Ohio, later settling in Washington, DC.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 31.

Cruise, February 3, 1993

Alice Anderson

Alice Anderson pic

September 4, 1993 – June 11, 2019

Grand Rapids resident Alice Joy Anderson was born in Holland.  Anderson’s creativity drew her to mythology, literature, music, architecture, history, and photography, and a passion for LEGO building blocks.  Her studies took her to India and Iceland.  At age 16, Anderson entered Hope College, where she worked as a set carpenter in the Theater Department and earned her B.A. in studio art in 2016.

Holland Sentinel, June 21, 2019

James Brown II

James Brown II pic

August 2, 1960 – February 11, 2019

James Osmond Brown II, known to customers and leather community members as Diamond Jim, grew up in Highland Park and graduated from Detroit’s Cass Tech High School.  Over the years, he held such titles as Mr. R&R, Mr. Leather Detroit, and Mr. Michigan Leather and in 1994 helped form the Michigan International Gay Rodeo Association.  From 2001 to 2010, Brown operated Diamond Jim’s Saloon.

Between The Lines, March 7, 2019

Lisa Ortiz

Lisa Ortiz pic

June 2, 1966 – February 21, 2019

Lisa Maria Rodriguez Ortiz was born in Chicago and as a teenager moved to Michigan, where she graduated from Okemos High School and attended the University of Michigan and Boston College.  For 26 years she taught Spanish at Greenhills School in Ann Arbor.  Ortiz resided in Ypsilanti with her daughters and wife Julia Marvin.

Ann Arbor News, February 28, 2019

Sean Sasser

Sean Sasser pic

October 25, 1968 – August 7, 2013

Detroit native Sean Franklin Sasser graduated from Cass Technical High School and attended the University of Chicago for a year.  He gained national celebrity a few years later as the HIV-positive AIDS educator boyfriend of Pedro Zamora on MTV’s The Real World in San Francisco.  Sasser went on to become a pastry chef and was survived by husband and longtime partner Michael Kaplan.

Washington Blade, August 8, 2013

CNN, August 8, 2013

Jacqueline Maurier

Jacqueline Maurier pic

October 3, 1970 – November 27, 2017

Jacqueline Maurier of Livonia earned her B.A. in psychology from the University of Michigan and an Associate degree from Henry Ford Community College.  She worked as a surgical technologist at Garden City Hospital and taught as a surgical instructor.  The mother of two, Maurier was survived by her significant other Cristi Dikeou.

Detroit Free Press, November 30, 2017

Griffin Funeral Home