Ronald Day, 36, a computer scientist whose gift for musical scoring “elevated the status” of the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus (AGMC), in the words of its artistic director, David Puckett, died of AIDS August 9. A music major at Pennsylvania’s West Chester University, Day worked with the AGMC for more than a decade. At home, he kept his lover, Leon Jackson, laughing. “Ron was fairly quiet, but every once in a while, he’d come in with a zinger that no one anticipated.” The couple’s love for travel—particularly on ocean liners—took them around the world. “He could mesh with anybody,” said Jackson, “be it drag queens or businessmen.” AGMC will hold a tribute concert for Day in March.
Jay Lewis’ friend, Grant Peterson, was “shocked but not surprised” when the Sonoma, California artist took his own life July 24 at age 63. “Jay had neuropathy,” Peterson said. “It [got] into his hands and he couldn’t work.” Lewis’ career began in 1959 when he was invited to exhibit his paintings at a gallery in South Korea during an Army stint. Back in California, Lewis scraped for a living until his work won worldwide recognition. His final project, “The Found Civilization,” involved sculptures made from bits and pieces of “disposable America.” “Jay never looked straight ahead,” said Peterson. “He kept his eyes on the ground, looking for bottle caps, nuts, bones and other such pieces, which he would make into glorious art.”
Bernard VanLenten Jr., associate publisher, editor and columnist for the New York style bible, DNR Magazine, died of pneumonia August 15. He was 56. A fixture on the fashion circuit, VanLenten critiqued haute couture for over 30 years. His colleague, Bill Taffin, told POZ, “Barry had a talent for looking at fashion and seeing beyond what was coming down the runway.” In 1986, VanLenten teamed up with Elizabeth Taylor to organize one of the first major AIDS fund-raisers in the country.