In his tenure as executive director, Willis Green Jr., 50, propelled the Harlem United Community AIDS Center from a small neighborhood drop-in to a full-service clearinghouse for low-income black and Latino PWAs. An Alabama native, Green earned a master’s degree in social work at Adelphi University on Long Island, and his advocacy work was widely respected. Miriam Stovall of Harlem United said Green was “a fighter,” born with activism in his blood. “He gave everything he had so that people of color may have access to quality care.” Green died on December 19 of respiratory distress due to sepsis.
Dean X. Johnson, assistant conductor and principal accompanist for the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus from 1984 through 1996, died of AIDS on January 4. He was 42. The Georgia-born Johnson traveled worldwide, conducting and arranging music for such notables as Eartha Kitt and Stockard Channing. A prolific composer, Johnson heard his work performed by more than 70 gay choruses during his lifetime. “Dean had extraordinary gifts for improvisation and good humor,” says Gary Miller, musical director of the Gay Men’s Chorus. “He knew every trick in the book to make us sound like a million dollars.”
In the 12 years between testing positive and his death on January 17, conceptual artist Joel David Taylor, 39, became a symbol of strength for Atlanta’s PWAs. Acutely aware that AIDS made his time precious, Taylor was determined to spread the love of life, according to those who knew him. “He was very creative,” says friend Roddy Roy. “He loved bringing people together, no matter what it took.” To this end, Taylor coordinated dancing parties that he dubbed Sanctuary. “Joel helped us find the truth in ourselves and get the most out of life,” Roy says.