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
June 18, 1929 – April 28, 2016
Gobles High School graduate Ruth Evonne Ketchum attended Western Michigan University and worked for many years at Upjohn pharmaceuticals. She played on the Brodys competitive fast-pitch softball team as catcher. Ketchum also took part in Kalamazoo’s annual Pride parade, attended Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and belonged to Phoenix Community Church.
Kalamazoo Gazette, May 1, 2016
May 13. 1983 – July 31, 2009
A native of Engadine in Mackinac County, Jonel Kathryn Hoogterp was valedictorian of her high school class and part of the All-UP Girls Basketball Team in 2001. She earned her Bachelor’s at Aquinas College and later moved to Durham, North Carolina. Hoogterp and her partner Julie Hatch were killed in an automobile crash.
Beaulieu Funeral Home
June 19, 1933 – August 3, 2017
Silver Lee Garske, a Kalamazoo native and resident of the village of Mattawan, played fast pitch softball. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s in education from Western Michigan University and went on to teach gym for 33 years, retiring from the Harper Creek Community Schools in 1987. Garske was preceded in death by her life companion of 65 years Betty Clark.
Kalamazoo Gazette, August 6, 2017