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MARION PANTZER, 1919 - 1986

In 1973, Marion Pantzer and Lynn Hornaday opened Just Marion and Lynn's
at 817 Fairview, one of Houston's very first bars for lesbians. Like many of
the earliest gathering places in our community, Just Marion and Lynn's
was a no-frills affair, but it gave women a much needed place to be with
other women.

In 1983, in part because of her efforts to provide such places, Marion
was named a grand marshal of Houston's Pride Parade, along with Walter Strickler, owner of The Barn. The next few years would also hold great things for Marion. Not only did Houston Mayor Kathy Whitmire declare Monday, April 28, 1985 to be Marion Pantzer Day, but Marion also moved the bar to a newer building at 903 Richmond Avenue.

Things were changing in Montrose, however. In the 1980s, businesses were frequently targets for crime and theft, and these tensions were exacerbated in November 1985 by the referendum defeat of a city non-discrimination ordinance protecting gays and lesbians.

In that environment, around 1 a.m. the morning of March 11, 1986,
Roger McGowan entered the bar with a gun, presumably to rob it. When Marion realized what was happening, she pulled her own pistol from her sweatshirt to defend her employees and her property. But decades had passed since her World War II army service, and only McGowan's return shot found its mark, the bullet piercing Marion's aorta.

Community journalist Nancy Ford writes of Marion's death: "Montrose went crazy. Disbelievers, both male and female, swarmed the tiny bar begging for the news not to be true. Marion's subsequent funeral was one of the largest and best attended in our city's history, with hundreds of community folk, business owners, police officers, drag queens, military personnel, and politicians paying their respects. One of the final registrants in the guestbook was Kathy Whitmire, the mayor of Houston."

Marion Pantzer Obituary and More Info on the Club Just Marion & Lynn's
OutSmart Magazine article