Heidie Speer

Heidie Speer pic

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

Tony Rome

Tony Rome pic

November 19, 1936 – April 29, 2021

Klaus Reich, better known to gay Metro Detroiters by Tony Rome, was born in Berlin, Germany and immigrated to the U.S. in the mid-1950s.  After serving in the U.S. Air Force, he began an aircraft servicing business in Ypsilanti.  He later operated Foof’s Down Under downstairs at Gigi’s nightclub in Detroit.  From 1979 to 1999, Rome published Cruise magazine before retiring to warmer climates.

Desert Sun, May 13, 2021

Hank George

Hank George pic

June 1, 1934 – March 20, 2986

Wilbert Delos “Hank” George attended North Branch High School in North Branch and worked on the assembly line at AC Spark Plug in Flint before serving in the U.S. Army from 1956 to 1958.  Following his time in the military, he was employed in maintenance for the State of Michigan in Flint and Lapeer.  George was a familiar presence at the State Bar and in the local gay community.

Flint Journal, March 21, 1986

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

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

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

Jerry Moore

Jerry Moore pic

April 24, 1928 – May 22, 2020

Jerry Abraham Moore grew up in Detroit, graduated from Redford High School, and attended Wayne State before being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1950.  Following his military service he became immersed in Detroit’s gay bar scene and from 1958 to 1960 served as secretary of the short-lived Detroit Area Council of the Mattachine Society, the first ever formal homosexual organization in Michigan.

Between The Lines [online only], June 12, 2020

Valerie Connell

Valerie Connell pic

June 21, 1953 – November 20, 2008

St. Joseph native Valerie Jean Connell became a champion horse rider during her school years, taking part in multiple horse associations and winning prizes at the Michigan State Fair.  After graduating from Edwardsburg High in 1971, she joined the U.S. Army, later earned her B.S. and M.S., and went on to teach social studies in Florida.  Connell was survived by her partner Lenora Ledwon.

Miami Herald, November 23, 2008

Deborah Powell

August 31, 1958 – April 20, 1999

Deborah Sue Powell of Adrian was born in Illinois, spent part of her childhood in Toledo, Ohio, and studied fisheries and wildlife at Kent State.  She later served as a cook in the U.S. Air Force and was an assembly line worker at the Ford Automotive plant in Rawsonville.  Powell was survived by former partners Deb Harkins and Cheryl Zupan.

Between The Lines, April 29, 1999