All, it is with sadness that we note the passing of Gunther Freehill. Gunther was a dedicated servant to the cause of HIV since the beginning of the epidemic. Please join us in remembering all of his contributions to LA and the nation’s response to HIV. Following are remarks that Kyle Baker sent to DHSP staff:
It is with deep sadness and a heavy heart that I pass along the news that Gunther Freehill passed away Monday, July 15, 2013. Initial indications are that he died of complications related to a recent heart attack.
Many of us knew Gunther both personally and through his long service to this Division (then Office of AIDS Programs and Policy, or OAPP) and to the County, and together we share our grief in his passing. The work that DHSP does today is, in ways both small and large, touched by the work that Gunther undertook before us. In fact, this Division’s existence is due in some measure to his advocacy. When Gunther left OAPP in 2005, he shared some departing thoughts with his colleagues, and I wanted to share some of them with you:
“I first came to OAPP in the late summer of 1988, when I was involved in ACT UP/Los Angeles. The County had done something, or hadn’t done something. ACT UP/LA didn’t approve, and we organized a picket. I stood on the corner of Sixth and Commonwealth, holding a sign, shoulder to shoulder with Cary Bobier, Bill Capobianco, Larry Day, Richard Iosty, Connie Norman, Bill Oxendine and the great love of my life, Mark Kostopoulos…I tell you their names because of that group, I am the only one who is alive today…As I leave OAPP, I take with me a wealth of fond memories and abiding friendships, a deep appreciation for those dedicated to service in this epidemic and a profoundly held concern for the HIV/AIDS service systems in Los Angeles County.” – Gunther Freehill, 9/2/2005
With Gunther’s passing, all of those individuals are now gone. Thus, our challenge is to honor their legacy and their advocacy by continuing and enhancing the work of the Division with that same profoundly-held concern for the HIV/AIDS and STD service systems we maintain for those in greatest need in Los Angeles County.
As Mario and I receive more information, including regarding funeral arrangements, we will share it with the Division.
________________Craig A. Vincent-Jones Executive Director Los Angeles County Commission on HIV 3530 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1140 Los Angeles, CA 90010 TEL 213.639.6714 FAX 213.637.4748 EML firstname.lastname@example.org WEB www.hivcommission-la.info