Barb Sowers

Barb Sowers pic

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

Mable Stewart Merritt

mable stewart merritt pic

September 8, 1925 – December 19, 2017

Born in upstate New York, Mable Stewart Merritt moved with her family as a child to Grosse Pointe, where she graduated from high school.  She worked as a typesetter for the United Auto Workers union for 40 years.  Merritt was interviewed by Roey Thorpe in 1992 about her involvement in lesbian life in Detroit during the 1950s.

Kansas City Star, January 3, 2018

Patricia Eames

Patricia Eames pic

December 25, 1929 – February 7, 2017

Lawyer, professor, and labor activist Patricia Eames earned her BA. at Reed College, her M.A. from Columbia, and her J.D. from Yale Law School.  In the 1980s, she served as general counsel for Wayne State University.  While in Detroit she and her life partner Connie Hart were active with the Forum Foundation and SEMGLA, the South East Michigan Gay/Lesbian Association.

Reed Magazine, 2017

Harry Kevorkian

Harry Kevorkian pic

August 7, 1947 – February 3, 2002

Originally from Waterford, Harry “Kitty” Kevorkian became involved in the Gay Liberation Front in Ann Arbor during in the early 1970s.  He, took part in numerous protests, once crashing an event donned in skag drag at the home of the president of the University of Michigan.  Kevorkian was a candidate for the city’s mayor in 1974 and later headed the bus union during a 42-day walkout.

Between The Lines, February 21, 2002

James Johnstone

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August 2, 1934 – June 26, 2006

A graduate of Michigan State University, Clinton Township resident James Johnstone taught math with the Fraser Schools for 30 years.  He served as a union leader with the Michigan Education Association, was long active in Democratic politics, and was an ardent supporter of the ACLU, NOW, and PFLAG.

Detroit News, July 9, 2006

Olga Madar

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May 17, 1915 – May 16, 1996

The daughter of a coal miner, Olga Madar earned a degree in physical education from Eastern Michigan University and rose to become the first woman on the board of the United Auto Workers in 1966 and an international vice president of the union in 1970.  Madar resided in Detroit’s Indian Village.

New York Times, May 18, 1996