, 2022-12-31 06:02:49,
Michigan lost philanthropists, judges, civil rights advocates, sports figures, Motown artists and community organizers in 2022.
A 100-year-old Tuskegee Airman, Miss America 1970, an astronaut from the Apollo 9 mission, groundbreaking LGBTQ activists, the man who created the Farmer Jack grocery chain and other founders of iconic businesses in the Detroit area, Mackinac Island and Frankenmuth were among those Michigan said goodbye to this year.
Here are some of the most notable Michigan figures who died in 2022:
Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson
Retired Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, World War II prisoner of war and lifelong Detroiter, died June 22 at 100 years old.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the nation’s first African American military pilots, and Jefferson was among the first to escort bombers in WWII.
He served in World War II as a P-51 fighter pilot with the 332nd Fighter Group-301st Fighter Squadron in Ramitelli, Italy, later called the “Red Tails.” Jefferson flew 18 missions before being shot down and held as a prisoner in Poland for eight months in 1944-45.
He was honorably discharged from active duty in 1947 and retired from the reserves in 1969 with the rank of lieutenant colonel. After the war, Jefferson was a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier, then became a Detroit public schools science teacher. He retired as an assistant principal in 1979.
In retirement, Jefferson spent time inspiring youth and sharing stories about the Tuskegee Airmen.
The Congressional Gold Medal was presented to Jefferson and the Tuskegee Airmen in 2007 by President George W. Bush.
Mamie King-Chalmers, a longtime Detroiter and steadfast civil rights advocate, died Nov. 29 at 81. She is one of three people captured in a famous Life magazine photo getting blasted by a firehose in Birmingham in 1963, a snapshot of her life’s legacy.
King-Chalmers caught the attention of Theophilus Eugene “Bull” Connor, a strict segregationist who served as Birmingham’s commissioner of public safety, due to her last name making him suspect that she was related to Martin Luther King, which she was not.
On that fateful day on May 17, 1963, King-Chalmers was protesting at a park with her siblings and friends, prompting police intervention. When Connor spotted her, he sent dogs to chase her and she ran for cover in front of a locked doctor’s office where Connor ordered the fire department to blast water at her.
The courage of King-Chalmers and her peers catapulted…
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