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Yale AIDS Memorial Project
pays virtual tribute to lives lost

Memorials dot the Yale campus: the Civil War memorial linking Woolsey Hall and the rotunda; just outside that, the World War I monument in Hewitt Quadrangle (aka Beinecke Plaza); and numerous places named in memory of individuals.

The Yale AIDS Memorial Project is different. A virtual memorial founded by young alumni, it launched last year with a print journal profiling eight alumni and faculty members who died of AIDS.

Now the project has a new website on which it aims to "honor and doc­u­ment the lives of hun­dreds of men and women from the Uni­ver­sity who per­ished dur­ing the AIDS epi­demic."

With biographies, photos, and stories from friends and family, "YAMP will make the epi­demic pal­pa­ble for a younger gen­er­a­tion and help to stim­u­late an AIDS mem­ory boom," the website says.

David W. Dunlap ’75 of the New York Times offers a touching tribute to his friend and former lover, Warren Smith ’74. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Smith worked for white-shoe law firms before becoming a vice president and counsel at a major insurance company.

"No longer lovers, in New York, we were more like fond, bat­tle-wea­ried friends," Dunlap writes. "We would have lunch together, or din­ner together… and then, I for­get what year, but he called to let me know that he had AIDS.

"I wrote his obit for the Times."

Dunlap asked Smith's mother, Rita: “May I spec­ify in the obit that he died of AIDS?”

She wasn’t at all sure about that, and with good rea­son: in 1987, most obits did not spec­ify that. Peo­ple died “after a short ill­ness.” Or, “the fam­ily would not dis­cuss the cause of death.” And with­out any per­sua­sion on my part, except for my say­ing, “Rita, for some­one to know that the vice pres­i­dent of the Home Life Insur­ance Com­pany has died of AIDS…” And she said, “Yes. You can say that.”

This is World AIDS Week.

Filed under Yale AIDS Memorial Project, Warren Smith, David W. Dunlap
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