November 10, 1947 – December 24, 2019
Grammy-winning songwriter Alta Sharral “Allee” Willis was born in Detroit and graduated in 1965 from Mumford High School. Following college in Wisconsin, Willis moved to New York, where she launched her music career. Her credits include songs for Earth, Wind, and Fire, the Pointer Sisters, Bonnie Rait, and the theme for the sitcom Friends. Willis was survived by her partner of 27 years Prudence Fenton.
New York Times, December 25, 2019
September 15, 1964 – August 3, 2021
Kelli Maria Hand, known professionally as K-Hand, grew up in Detroit where she attended Henry Ford High School. In the 1980s, she discovered the dance scene at the Paradise Garage nightclub in New York and became hooked on the music. Before long she landed gigs as a DJ, including at the Detroit gay venue Zipper’s, and came to achieve international acclaim as the “first lady of Detroit techno.”
Between The Lines [online only], August 5, 2021
New York Times, August 9, 2021
Remembering Detroit Techno Trailblazer Kelli Hand
October 20, 1937 – February 26, 2003
The Rev. Dr. Barbara Edith Edgecombe, a Chicago native, graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School and studied piano at the University of Michigan. While working as a piano teacher back in Chicago, she decided to train for the ministry. Edgecombe came out after graduating theological seminary and in the late 1990s served as the openly lesbian pastor of the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Greater Lansing.
Chicago Tribune, March 2, 2003
June 27, 1957 – March 2, 2020
Long Island, New York native Beth Sara Greenapple resided in Royal Oak and Southfield after moving to Metro Detroit in 1995 and taught music at Hillel Day School in Farmington Hills and the Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills. She was a founding member of the Jewish Gay Network of Michigan and served as its early president. Greenapple was survived by her partner Julia Pais and their son Nadav Pais-Greenapple.
Hebrew Memorial Chapel
May 13, 1930 – June 28, 2002
Born in Kalamazoo, Frederick Allen Lake graduated with the high school class of 1949 from Bay City Central. We went on to apprenticed in the craft of organ building in Hamburg, Germany and was employed by pipe organ firms in Saginaw and Illinois before moving to San Francisco to work as a voicer for Schoenstein & Company. Lake corresponded with ONE magazine from Bay City in the mid-1960s.
The Diapason, February 12, 2003
May 10, 1967 – September 27, 2000
Kenneth Ian “Kenny” Heron was a lifelong Detroit resident and worked for the Michigan Humane Society. He also served for nearly five years as the popular Wednesday night DJ at Off Broadway East. At age 33, Heron was shot and killed in an attempted carjacking on the city’s west side.
Between The Lines, October 5, 2000
October 4, 1955 – November 4, 1990
Detroit native William Robert “Bill” Corby II attended Ferris State University and was employed with the Chrysler Corporation. Active in the leather community, he was DJ at the R&R Saloon and the Detroit Eagle. For a time in the mid-1980s, Corby and his lover Chuck Turza worked as stewards and waiters for a Hawaiian cruise line. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 35.
Cruise, November 28, 1990
February 16, 1953 – February 14, 2011
Originally from Florida, Steve Nader got his start as a gay dance club DJ in Atlanta, Georgia. After moving to Michigan in the 1970s, he helped found the Disco Pool Detroit record pool and went on to spin discs at such bars as Five West, the Gas Station, Menjo’s, the Detroit Eagle, and Off Broadway East. He lost his life to prostate cancer at age 58.
Between The Lines [online only], May 7, 2015
May 10, 1965 – March 4, 2020
A noted figure in Detroit’s electronic music scene, James Joseph Stone Jr. was born in Royal Oak and graduated from Seaholm High School in Birmingham in 1984. He attended Eastern Michigan University and came out as a young gay man on the dance floors of Todd’s and Heaven. A musician and DJ, Stone became an important distributor and promoter of house and techno throughout the metro area.
Potere-Modetz Funeral Home
The Advocate: Jim Stone, 1965-2020
February 21, 1942 – November 15, 2011
Grand Rapids resident Martha VanderEyk immigrated from the Netherlands at age six with her family. She graduated from Kalamazoo Christian High School in 1960, attended Calvin College, and earned her Bacherlor’s in Music from Grand Valley State University. VanderEyke was employed as a business manager and was a longtime member, with her partner Leslie Kohn, of the Grand Rapids Women’s Chorus.
Grand Rapids Press, November 23, 2011