August 4, 1977 – December 3, 2021
Jamie Louise Bissell grew up and attended college in Indiana. After earning her J.D. at Valparaiso University in 2005, she moved to Michigan where she first lived in Trenton and worked in law firms. She later moved to Livonia and took a job with the Wayne County Friend of the Court. She also served as president of her union local. Bissell was survived by two children and her wife Molly Pastori-Bissell.
Owen Family Funeral Homes
September 28, 1937 – September 2, 1985
A native of Dayton, Ohio, Clifford William Kelley worked as a regional sale representative for Detroit Edison and was involved in Wayne County politics. While separated from his wife, he was found murdered in his Royal Oak apartment. Known as “John” in the gay world, Kelley was last seen leaving an adult bookstore near Woodward and Six Mile in Detroit with another male.
Detroit Free Press, September 6, 1985
Cruise, November 13, 1985
April 16, 1960 – January 4, 2018
Lesbian writer, filmmaker, and punk musician Rayya Mokdessy Elias was born in Syria, grew up in Metro Detroit, and graduated from Center Line High School. She moved to New York in the 1980s, returning intermittently to Michigan, living in Warren and Royal Oak. Elias directed the film shorts Anonymous and Lunchroom and authored the memoir Harley Loco. She was survived by Elizabeth Gilbert.
The Cut, January 5, 2018
The Alpha Wolf
June 15, 1981 – December 10, 2018
Born in Lansing, Jesse James Sherman Melot graduated from Fulton High School in Middleton in 1999. He later earned his Associate’s at Lansing Community College and his Bachelors from Sienna Heights University, going on to work as operations manager for Farm Bureau Insurance. Melt met his future husband Derek Melot in March 2004 and the two wed in October 2013.
Lansing State Journal, December 14, 2018
July 9, 1953 – February 17, 2018
A resident and native of Indiana, Carol Ann McGill-Colagrossi operated a hair salon and pursued her MSW at Western Michigan University. She went on to work as a social worker in substance abuse rehabilitation at a number of health care clinics and agencies in her home state. McGill-Colagrossi met her future wife Jean McGill in 1990 and the two were married in Iowa in 2013.
South Bend Tribune, February 21, 2018
July 23, 1927 – March 5, 1998
Originally from Illinois, Frank Lloyd Bigger Jr. worked as manager and bartender at Joe Covello’s in Lansing from 1975 to 1991. He went on to manage JB’s Saloon for three years before helping launch the Esquire Bar in 1994. The Lansing Association for Human Rights recognized Bigger with a Prism Award in 1995. Following his death in a car accident, an annual euchre charity event was named in his honor.
Between The Lines, April 16, 1998
September 17, 1952 – November 2, 1996
Detroit resident Craig Economy grew up in Dearborn, attended Dearborn High School, and pursued studies in Vermont and Arizona. On returning to Michigan, he worked as a popular hairdresser at Jacobsen’s and other salons. A longtime survivor of HIV, Economy was active in Friends Alliance, the AIDS Interfaith Network, and other organizations. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 47.
Cruise, November 20, 1996
Erin Nicole Oyster was born in Cadillac and graduated from Reed City High School in 1997. She attended Western Michigan University, where she was a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority and where she earned her Bachelor’s in education in 2002. After college Oyster taught high school English in Arizona. She was survived by her life partner Heather Schonfeld.
Big Rapids Pioneer, January 15, 2021
August 15, 2947 – March 17, 2005
Kenneth John Arnold was born in Detroit and graduated in 1965 from Lincoln Park High School in Lincoln Park. He later moved to Bay City and in the early 1970s, he became proprietor of Chalet Interiors in Saginaw. Often known by his drag name Bambi, Arnold took over Tallulah’s Show Bar in the 1990s and rechristened it Bambi’s Bottoms Up.
Saginaw News, March 19, 2005
February 27, 1967 – June 9, 2011
After graduating from Springport High School in 1986, Springfield resident Heidie Ann Speer went on to serve in the U.S. Army. From elementary and high school into adulthood, she played on several softball teams, helping to take one to the league championship. In later years, Speer was employed as a cook at Centennial House restaurant. She was survived by two sons and Angie Graham, her former life partner.
Jackson Citizen Patriot, June 13, 2011