July 9, 1953 – February 17, 2018
A resident and native of Indiana, Carol Ann McGill-Colagrossi operated a hair salon and pursued her MSW at Western Michigan University. She went on to work as a social worker in substance abuse rehabilitation at a number of health care clinics and agencies in her home state. McGill-Colagrossi met her future wife Jean McGill in 1990 and the two were married in Iowa in 2013.
South Bend Tribune, February 21, 2018
Erin Nicole Oyster was born in Cadillac and graduated from Reed City High School in 1997. She attended Western Michigan University, where she was a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority and where she earned her Bachelor’s in education in 2002. After college Oyster taught high school English in Arizona. She was survived by her life partner Heather Schonfeld.
Big Rapids Pioneer, January 15, 2021
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
February 6, 1948 – October 5, 1986
Eugene Carlpeter Forrest was born in Sault Ste. Marie, graduated from Sault Ste. Marie High School in 1966, and went on to graduate from Western Michigan University. Forrest moved to San Francisco in his mid-20s where he was later president of the Barbary Coasters motorcycle club. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 38.
Bay Area Reporter, October 30, 1986
July 3, 1923 – August 31, 2020
Mt. Pleasant resident Jean Roberts grew up on a farm in rural Iowa and attended Western Michigan University, where she played tuba in the symphony. She went on to teach physical education in Kalamazoo and at Comstock High School and later worked as a counselor in the Reed City schools. For 15 years, Roberts and her life partner Janet Bush operated J & J Leather.
Morning Sun, September 1, 2020
April 22, 1935 – January 6, 2018
Painter, sculptor, and pioneering filmmaker Jere Van Syoc graduated from Lincoln High in Ferndale. She went on to earn her B.A. and M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and later taught at Western Michigan University and Nazareth College. In 1977, Van Syoc co-founded Aradia in Grand Rapids, where her home was known as “a palace for the goddess.” She died at age 82 in West Virginia.
High Lawn Funeral Home
Jere Van Syoc Collection at The Woman Behind the Camera
May 29, 1944 – April 6, 2005
Martha Charles of Lathrup Village was born in Crawfordsville, Indiana and as a toddle moved to Detroit, where she graduated with the class of 1962 from Cass Tech High School. After earning her B.A. from Western Michigan University, she taught middle and high school in St. Clair Shores. Charles was active in Women Together and co-founded the group Lesbian-A-Sisters. Her partner Sue Brooks survived her.
Between The Lines, May 12, 2005
February 4, 1938 – February 27, 2009
Portia June Fagan was born in Kalamazoo, attended Richland High School, graduated from Western Michigan University, and had a long career as a tax preparer and real estate broker. In 1994, she came out as lesbian in the Kalamazoo Gazette to “break down stereotypes.” Fagan and her life partner Janice O’Dell retired to Arizona in the early 2000s.
Kalamazoo Gazette, March 11, 2009
September 23, 1948 – August 7, 2012
Kalamazoo nutritionist Diana Zhenhua Artz-Iffland earned her B.S. from Western Michigan University and her M.S. from Michigan State University. She was a longtime member of the People’s Church and, with her life partner River Artz-Iffland, was active in the pioneering local lesbian organization Lavender Morning. For 18 years the couple operated Pandora’s Books for Open Minds.
August 26, 1928 – April 12, 2013
Born in Escanaba, William James Hirn earned his Bachelor’s from Western Michigan University and did his graduate studies at the University of Michigan. After teaching in Muskegon and Ann Arbor, he moved to New York State, where he was on the early faculty of Rockland Community College. Hirn and his life partner of 48 years Joseph Rogers retired to Spain and later lived in Houston and Las Vegas.
Escanaba Daily Press, April 19, 2013