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
December 13, 1949 – January 13, 2021
Originally from Iowa, Gladwin resident Linda Sue Caldwell taught high school health in Wisconsin and later at Ogemaw High in West Branch. She was also an athletic trainer and volleyball coach. Caldwell and her wife and partner of 38 years Susan Hightower also ran the Twisted Oak Tree Farm with an easement arranged through Little Forks Conservancy.
Gladwin County Record, January 20, 2021
June 23, 1928 – November 11, 2010
Illinois native Jean Shirley Cione pitched with the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from 1945 to 1954, including one year each playing with the Battle Creek Belles and the Muskegon Belles. In the off-season earned her Bachelor’s at Eastern Michigan University, where she later taught for 29 years and served as the first Women’s Athletic Director. Cione was survived by her partner Ginny Hunt.
Ann Arbor News, December 2, 2010
April 5, 1957 – September 28, 2004
Francine Louise Malindzak was a star athlete at Gaylord High School and Northern Michigan University in hockey and skiing. She was later employed with plant operations at the NMU library and in the 1990s was co-publisher of the Aurora newsletter, which connected lesbian and gay residents across the Upper Peninsula. Malindzak was murdered at age 47 by a jealous male neighbor of the woman she was dating.
Gaylord Herald Times, October 2, 2004
Francine Malindzak at Le Chrysalis Remembers
November 13, 1963 – May 27, 1996
Born in Howell, Grosse Pointe Farms resident Sara Maria Briden grew up in Grosse Pointe and graduated with the class of 1981 from South High School. She later attended the Ford School of Nursing and the University of Michigan before becoming a beauty consultant and operating her own business. An active runner and swimmer, Breden was also a supporter of Affirmations Community Center.
Grosse Pointe News, May 30, 1996
September 18, 1963 – April 3, 2020
Growing up in the 1970s, Ellen Marie Rogowski of Holly was the first girl to play in a boys’ baseball league in Royal Oak. She earned her B.A. and M.A. from Oakland University and taught middle school in Pontiac and English at Henry Ford Community College and Lewis College of Business. She was also an accomplished musician, releasing three albums. She and Rosemary Jozwiak shared 30 years together.
Sharp Funeral Homes
December 24, 1959 – September 19, 2018
Lifelong Laingsburg resident Carrie Lynn Koonter played on the 1978 Michigan Class D High School Softball championship team and was co-founder of the Laingsburg Women’s Golf League. She worked for 25 years at Meijer in East Lansing. She and Mary McDougal were together more than 30 years and were married in 2015. Koonter died at age 58 following an extended battle with multiple sclerosis.
Lansing State Journal, September 23, 2018
October 21, 1949 – May 28, 2007
Born in Detroit, Kathye Jo Langstaff of Dexter attended Belleville High School and went on to work with developmentally disabled adults. An avid sports fan, Langstaff played third-base on several Ann Arbor area lesbian softball teams and later served as base coach.
Lesbian Connection September/October 2007
May 4, 1932 – October 19, 2012
In 1953 and 1954 Barbara Jean “Barb” Sowers played outfrield with Muskegon Belles and the Grand Rapids Chicks in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Born in Detroit, she grew up in Livonia and retired as a high school counselor with the Livonia schools, where she headed the teachers’ union in the mid-1970s. Sowers was preceded in death by Shirley Weaver, her companion of 45 years.
Roberson Funeral Home and Crematory
April 9, 1959 – October 10, 2018
Known as “Auntie” to tribal youth in Michigan, Cindy Pigeon of Wayland led workshops on native culture and was active with the Grand Rapids Inter-Tribal Council and the Indian Workers Conference of the United Methodist Church. She was an avid sports enthusiast, kept score for Hopkins Public Schools, and pitched softball with the Salem Indian Mission team. She was survived by her wife Faith Pigeon.
Grand Rapids Press, October 14, 2018