Billy Herrod

Billy Herrod pic

October 26, 1957 – December 19, 2003

Activist and Joliet, Illinois native Billy Wayne Herrod Jr. began his career in retail following community college and moved to Detroit in 1996 as a manager for Sam’s Club.  He served on the board for Kick!, predecessor to LGBT Detroit, and as a member of the Detroit Black Gay Pride board helped to organize the annual Hotter Than July in the early 2000s.

Between The Lines, January 8, 2004

Bruce Hays

Bruce Hays pic

February 26, 1968 – pronounced dead November 6, 1999

Mundy Township resident Bruce Michael Hays attended Grand Blanc High, came out as a teen sneaking into Detroit bars, and in the mid-1980s started a computer dating service for Flint-area gay youth.  He later completed three years of college and worked as a bartender.  Hays gained national notoriety for swiping Michael Jackson’s glove from the Motown Museum.  He took his own life at age 31.

Flint Journal, November 12, 1999

Susan North

Susan North pic

July 23, 1940 – September 8, 2010

Susan Sanborn North of Troy was born in New Hampshire and graduated from Hunter College in New York.  She worked as a computer programmer, author, and financial planner, and in the latter career advised bequests to numerous LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations in Metro Detroit.  North was active with both Affirmations and the Triangle Foundation.

Between The Lines, September 23, 2010

Nona McKenna

July 7, 1940 – October 20, 2008

Nona Diane McKenna of Dexter was born in the Upper Peninsula town of Hermansville, graduated from Roosevelt High School in Ypsilanti, earned her B.A. in physical education from Eastern Michigan University, and served in the U.S. Marines from 1961 to 1966.  In 1991, she and Sally Johnson became the first same-sex couple to register as domestic partners.  They married in California in 2008.

Ann Arbor News, October 23, 2008

David Betley

David Betley pic

February 25, 1951 – October 7, 1996

Redford resident David Ross Betley grew up in Beverly Hills and graduated in 1969 from Groves High School in Birmingham.  Betley was employed as an assistant manager with Budget Rent-A-Car and, together with his companion Brian Carmody, belonged to the Motor City Organ Society.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 45.

Cruise, October 16, 1996

Amy Jo Lambert

Amy Jo Lambert pic

February 13, 1968 – September 2, 2020

Born in Bay City, Amy Jo Lambert grew up in Midland and graduated with the class of 1986 from Dow High School.  She as director of the Fun House and in recent years helped facilitate a local Superhero Training Camp for kids.  Lambert was also an avid camper, hiker, and kayaker.  She was survived by her partner Julie Sugar.

Midland Daily News, September 4, 2020

Ralph O’Reilly

Ralph OReilly pic2

April 16, 1919 – April 19, 1995

Cleveland, Ohio native Ralph Anthony O’Reilly served as a Navy lieutenant in the Pacific during World War II and later landed in Detroit where he was employed as an engineer with General Motors and met his life partner of 43 years Ralph Stallings.  The couple moved to Davisburg in the early 1960s and operated a Japanese bonsai nursery until they retired to southern California.

Times-Advocate, April 25, 1995

Ralph Stallings

Ralph Stallings pic

March 11, 1910 – February 8, 1994

World War II vet Ralph Thompson Stallings began working as a bellhop while attending Saginaw High School and rose in the ranks of hotels in Flint and Detroit.  He met his life partner Ralph O’Reilly at a bridge party when neither played bridge.  They soon shared an apartment in Detroit and later a home in Davisburg, where they raised Japanese bonsai before moving to Escondido, California in the early 1980s.

Times-Advocate, February 11, 1994

Deb Price

Deb Price pic

February 27. 1958 – November 20, 2020

Deborah Jane “Deb” Price started college at the University of Michigan before transferring to Stanford, where she earned her B.A. and M.A.  In 1992, while working for the Detroit News, she began writing a regular column on gay life, the first for a mainstream daily newspaper.  The column was soon syndicated throughout the U.S. and continued for 18 years.  Price was survived by her wife Joyce Murdoch.

Between The Lines, December 10, 2020

New York Times, December 10, 2020

Andy Karagas

Andy Karagas pic

January 1, 1921 – May 14, 1997

Indian Village homeowner Andrew “Andy” Karagas was the son of Greek and Italian immigrants and served in the Pacific during World War II.  Brother to Woodward Lounge owner William Karagas, he served as the nighttime host there for more than 40 years and was active in the Detroit Bar Guild.  Generations of customers recalled Karagas booming bar “Tonight’s the Night!” as he strolled the bar.

Detroit Free Press, May 19, 1997

Cruise, May 21, 1997

Between The Lines, June 1997