October 16, 1927 – January 13, 1995
Detroit native Raymond Edward “Ray” Johnson graduated from Cass Tech High School and took art classes at the Ox-Bow School in Saugatuck. He later studied at Black Mountain College in North Carolina before moving to New York City in the late 1940s. Johnson became an acclaimed collagist and performance artist. He relocated to Long Island at age 41 and ended his life at age 67.
New York Times, January 19, 1995
How to Draw a Bunny
September 13, 1945 – November 26, 2019
William “Bill” Galligan Jr. grew up in a Chicago suburb and earned his Bachelor’s at Western Michigan University. Following a career as an educator, Galligan moved to Saugatuck, where he became a beloved retailer, operating the Old Post Office Shop and later Spice Crazy Cottage. He was active in efforts to enact a gay rights ordinance in the late 1990s and was also a strong supporter of local arts.
Commercial Record, December 5, 2019
August 24, 1887 – March 24, 1984
Noted interior designer and architect Florence Ely Hunn, known to friends as Dannie, grew up in Iowa and was educated in Germany and at the University of Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago. Around 1917, Hunn and her life-long companion Mabel “Jims” Warren acquired a lakeshore cottage near Saugatuck, where they shared a bohemian life together for more than five decades.
Grand Rapids Press, March 25, 1984
Holland Sentinell, March 26, 1984
Florence “Dannie” Ely Hunn at Saugatuck-Douglas History Center
January 16, 1952 – October 1, 2019
Arts supporter, benefactor, and retired attorney David Lyle Balas was born in Mt. Clemens, graduated from University Liggett High School, and attended universities in Ohio. He worked with the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and served on the East Lansing City Council as an openly gay member from 1983 to 1995. Balas and his future husband Jim Sellman moved to Saugatuck in 2003 and wed in 2015.
Between The Lines, October 17, 2019
February 3, 1962 – January 7, 2019
Barbara Faye Gessell was born in and spent much of her life in Ohio and held a J.D. and Bachelor’s in business administration. Her long career in human resources included managerial positions at Mercy Health Network, Toledo Edison, and the Toledo Blade. After she was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, Gessell retired to Saugatuck with her wife Jennifer Roe.
Toledo Blade, January 11, 2019
July 21, 1930 – March 13, 2018
Betsy Ann Boyette was born in rural North Carolina and served as a radio operator in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War before attending DeVry Technical Institute in Chicago as its first female graduate. In the mid-1980s, she started her own interior decorator business, retiring to Saugatuck in 2002. Boyette and her spouse Dianne Wendt were together 43 years and married in 2015.
Commercial Record, March 22, 2018
September 23, 1938 – February 3, 2019
Born in Lewiston, Idaho, Carl Ivan Jennings served in the U.S. Air Force before making his way to Michigan, where, in the late 1960s, he met his life partner and later husband Lawrence Gammons. In 1981, they opened Douglas Dunes Resort and in 2012 helped to found West Shore AWARE. The two were featured in the 2015 WGVU documentary Michigan Hometown Stories: Saugatuck/Douglas.
Holland Sentinel, February 6, 2019
Commercial Record, February 7, 2019
May 21, 1948 – September 12, 2013
A graduate of the University of Michigan, Adrian Vincent practiced law in East Lansing and Chicago. As a longtime resident of Douglas, He was involved with the Saugatuck/Douglas Historical Society and enjoyed skiing, sailing, and cycling. Vincent was survived by his partner Thomas Staniszewski.
Lansing State Journal, September 18, 2013
September 26, 1941 – December 10, 2010
Allegan resident Dianna “Jo” Bortz and her husband Jay were active in the Holland/Lakeshore chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. She was a member of All Saints Episcopal Church in Saugatuck. Prior to retirement, Bortz worked in senior care and protective services.
Kalamazoo Gazette, December 16, 2010
October 13, 1917 – December 6, 1985
Chicago puppeteer Franklin Burr Tillstrom, creator of Kukla and Ollie on the television kid’s show Kukla, Fran, and Ollie, owned a summer home in Saugatuck.
New York Times, December 8, 1985
Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame