Dennis deLeon, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS (LCOA), died December 14 in New York City from heart failure, The New York Times reports. He was 61.

According to the article, deLeon became LCOA president in 1994. At the time, it had a staff of two. Today, the organization employs a staff of 45, has a $5 million budget and works in cooperation with 380 AIDS groups around the country to provide support to Latinos living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Also under deLeon’s leadership, LCOA in 2003 sponsored the first National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, which is commemorated annually nationwide on October 15.

He received his law degree from Stanford in 1974. He later became a trial lawyer for the Department of Justice. In 1982, Mayor Edward I. Koch named deLeon senior assistant corporation counsel.

In 1986, David Dinkins, who was Manhattan borough president at the time, named deLeon deputy borough president. After Dinkins became New York City mayor, he named deLeon the city’s human rights commissioner.

In a 1993 Times op-ed, deLeon disclosed he was HIV positive.

According to LCOA, the vigil and viewing will take place in New York City at Reddens Funeral Home at 325 West 14th Street, between 8th Avenue and 9th Avenue, on Wednesday, December 16, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The funeral service will take place in New York City at the Parish of St. Joseph in Greenwich Village, located at 371 Avenue of the Americas, between Washington Place and Waverly Place, on Thursday, December 17, starting at 10 a.m.

In response to requests, the Latino Commission on AIDS and the friends and family of Dennis deLeon have created the “Dennis deLeon Memorial Fund” for the enhancement of HIV/AIDS treatment education.

If you would like to donate to the Fund, please send all contributions to:
Latino Commission on AIDS
24 West 25th Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10010
Attn: “Dennis deLeon Memorial Fund”

Click here to read a memorial of deLeon by POZ founder Sean Strub.