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Patrick Leonard World AIDS Day Tribute

pleonardBy John Hilgeman

December 1, 2014: One name I didn't find on the Project's HIV/AIDS Memorial list is Patrick Leonard. He was a key person in the founding of the NAMES Project in St. Louis, and the key organizer of the first workshop and first display in St. Louis in 1988. I was his buddy.

We saw the Quilt together at the March in Washington in 1987, and on the plane on the way back to St. Louis he said that he heard the Quilt might come to St. Louis, and he wanted to help bring it here. We went to the first organizing meeting for the Quilt in January of 1988.

He and I and Trish Phifer-Harwig went to San Francisco in February of that year to check out the workshop there and to assist with a panel for the tour.

He took a leadership role and was involved until his health began to fail. Were it not for him, it would have been more difficult to bring the Quilt to St. Louis. He also read names at the second national display of the Quilt in October of 1988. And he was involved with a couple other AIDS related organizations and fundraisers before he died.

I have kept a picture that I took of him holding his dog Shakee in his chair, taken the night the display closed, on the wall by my computer for many years. The two of us did a radio interview with Sandra Spirtas on her series about AIDS. Dan Johnson - on the Project's Memorial List - was his lover. Pat Gregory - also on the list (and my second buddy) - came to the workshop early on and made dozens of panels for the Quilt. When Patrick died, his mother and I were interviewed after his memorial service at the Sheldon.

I would be very happy for you to add Patrick to the Project's list. You don't know how emotional I got just now at your request. Some feelings slumber a long time, and then awaken unexpectedly with a simple trigger.

Picture courtesy of John Hilgeman: Patrick is holding a sign that a woman cheering on the side of the March gave us when I told I told her as we were passing by, that I liked her sign. We were at the Quilt display in DC in 1987.

Note: Since posting the Project's HIV/AIDS Memorial list on Facebook today, the Project has received more than a dozen additional names to add. If you have names, stories, or photographs to share to support our memorial list, please let us know.

Copyright Steven L. Brawley, 2007-2015. All Rights Reserved.