Phillip Hildreth

Phillip Hildreth
May 1, 1958 – Aug. 2, 1991

Phillip was a beautiful deaf man who traveled a long road to share his last smiles with us.

Born in Jackson, Miss., and raised by foster mother Bessie Hildreth, Phillip attended the Arkansas School for the Deaf in Little Rock, Ark. He lived in Atlanta for 15 years before coming to San Francisco for a better life and for services for deaf people with AIDS (nonexistent in Georgia).

He was a fun-loving “girlfriend” and could give a “snap” that would make anyone smile. He loved sports (Go Giants!), gossip (The Enquirer) and, of course, shopping.

We will miss him but know he is at peace. Born again in the spirit, he’s finally going home.

Donations in his name may be made to the St. Benedict’s Deaf AIDS Information Center.

(Source: Bay Area Reporter)

Garet Stark

Garet Michael Stark
Nov. 25, 1953 – Sept. 9, 1992

On Wednesday, September 9, Garet died at home. He had been living with AIDS.

A tireless runner, activist and advocate, Garet worked as the assistant director of Bay Area Communication Access. He held sign language interpreter certification from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.

Garet was extremely active in the deaf community and the Northern California Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. He was one of the founders of the Deaf AIDS Center. He received the Bridge award from Deaf Services Network – North in 1990. Garet was an outstanding athlete, participating and winning medals at the Gay Games. He assisted the Names Project with interpreting, and he participated in civil disobedience during the 1987 March on Washington with the Queer and Present Danger Affinity Group.

He is survived by his other, Mary Combs, of New Jersey; his father, James Stark, of Florida; his sisters and two brothers; several nieces and nephews; and many friends.

A celebration of Garet’s life will be held on October 10 at St Benedict Center, 2891 Bush St., SF at 2 p.m. Contributions may be made to Deaf Services Network – North, Bay Area Communications Access, or the Northern California Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.

He will be sorely missed.

(Source: Bay Area Reporter)

* * * * * *

Founding Member of SFT&FC Dies
Garet Stark, 1954-1992

by Rick Thoman

One of the founding members of the San Francisco Track & Field Club, Garet Stark, passed away Wednesday, Sept. 9, due to AIDS complications. Slightly built and sporting trademark red hair, the soft-spoken but spunky Stark was also widely known and well-regarded as an interpreter in the gay community.  The loss of Stark, 38, along with another SFT&FC founding member, Alan French, earlier this year, has created a somber tone

for the impending 10th anniversary of the SF Track & Field Club.

Stark was one of the individuals instrumental in organizing and establishing the SF Track & Field Club following the first Gay Games.  He was always supportive of newcomers to the club, going out of his way to make them feel comfortable with their efforts and their progress.

Other interests and duties caused him to skip the 1986 Gay Games, but he came back in 1990 and help organize the middle distance runners into a viable force at the Vancouver Games.  He was a member of the gold medal-winning 4×400 open relay team at that event.

As a runner, Stark was determined and unrelenting in training and in competition.  In a show of his tenacity and competitive spirit, Stark went out hard and fast in the 1990 Gay Games 1500 meter run, although he was already battling the effects of the AIDS virus.  Leading the field in the first two laps, he wilted in the near 100-degree heat on the final lap, collapsing in a dehydrated clump as he crossed the finish line, fully feeling the effects of the sun, the disease and his hard-fought effort.

“He had that ‘never-give-up’ spirit when he was running,” said one of Stark’s teammates and admirers. “He was a winner no matter what place he finished because he always gave his best effort.  It was evident every time he ran.”

Stark was a great “giver” to the gay community, not only in his efforts with the track club but also with the gay deaf community.  He volunteered his time at innumerable functions and maintained a special sensitivity to helping the people he cherished as his “family.”

Friend and track teammate Nancy Frost described Stark as a “treasure” and “someone we’ll all miss, not just on the track team.”  Others saddened by his loss mentioned his smile, his support and his indefatigable spirit in describing the diminutive red-haired dynamo.

“The San Francisco Track & Field Club will celebrate its 10th anniversary, and we will continue on in the spirit of Garet and all the other members who have passed away – but it won’t be the same without them,” state team Co-Coach Frank Demby.

(Source: Bay Area Reporter)

Kent T. Mitchell

Kent T. Mitchell
December 21, 1987

Kent died at San Francisco General Hospital on Dec. 21.

Born in Oakland in 1943, Kent called San Francisco home for over 25 years. He was active in the deaf community and was a founding member of the Rainbow Deaf Society.

Kent, a gentle, loving man will be missed by his family and many good friends.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, Jan. 17 at 2 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at the Hearing Society, 20 10th Street S.F. (between Market & Mission).

Contributions in Kent’s name may be made to the American Foundation for AIDS Research 9601 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

(Source: Bay Area Reporter)

Donald R. Silvers

Don SilversDonald R. Silvers
Oct. 24, 1942 – Noc. 10, 1990

Don died peacefully, surrounded by his family and friends, at Coming Home Hospice.

Don attended Mary E. Bennett School for the Deaf, Riverside School for the Deaf and Gallaudet College for the Deaf in Washington, D.C.

After his first bout with Pneumocystis in 1987, he was unable to continue his career as a typographer, but he continued to be an active volunteer in the deaf community, helping others to cope with AIDS.

He is survived by his loving family in Southern California: his parents, Mr. and Mrs. A.E. Wilkey; and his sisters, Donna Hamil and Barbara Robinson.

All of us who knew Don will never forget his dedication to taking care of our friend Lou Jemas. We will all miss his sense of humor and his treasured friendship. We love you Don.

(Source: Bay Area Reporter)

Jay D. Wilson

Jay WilsonJay D. Wilson
Dec. 3, 1950 – May 26, 1996

The deaf community has lost its sign language interpreter, Jay Wilson, to AIDS complications. Born in Akron, Ohio, to deaf parents, Jay had been very active in this community, as well as a member of the Rainbow Society for the Deaf. He moved to San Francisco in 1978.

Jay was a founding member and on the board of the Deaf Community AIDS Project (DCAP). At every major event like the Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade or the annual AIDS Candlelight March, Jay stood onstage and signed to the deaf.

A funeral Mass was held at Mission Dolores Basilica, and he was buried in the Colma Cemetery. Surviving are his parents, Clyde and Nellie Wilson; sisters, Priscilla Metzler and Gloria Roberts; brothers, Jerry and Windsor Wilson; nephews, Travis, Derrick and Jeremy; nieces, Nicole and Jacqueline; two dearest friends, John and Helen; and the others Jay shared his friendship with.

The memorial service will be at San Francisco Club, 530 Valencia St., SF, on Saturday, June 22, 1-5 p.m. For information about the memorial service, please call the California Relay Service (800/735-2922) or James at 510/261-9876 TDD or John at 415/323-0402 TDD.

(Source: Bay Area Reporter)

Constante Devalle, Jr.

Constante Devalle, Jr. Constante was a very good person who got along with everyone. He loved to dance and was very talented. We all looked up to him and his love of dance, he was deaf and could out dance all of us.

(Submitted by DJ Pete Magliano)

Ronald J. Kach Jr.

RonaldRonald died in Connecticut after living in Seattle for many years.

If anyone has an obituary or additional information about Ronald, please submit it.  If you knew Ronald, please consider sharing a memory about him in the comments area below.

(Photo submitted by Mark Byrd)

Rosie Lanier Rodriquez

RosieRosieRosie Lanier Rodriquez was born on January 16, 1969, in Ft. Worth, Texas. Her parents were of Black, French, and White ancestry. She was assigned male at birth and given the name Marvin Earl Wilson. 

In September 1996, while living in San Francisco, Rosie made one of her biggest dreams come true and began her transition from male to female. She no longer felt trapped in the wrong body. She also legally changed her name to Rosie Lanier Rodriguez.

Rosie was outgoing, enthusiastic, well educated and always up for an adventure. She loved art, cooking, gymnastics, and was a fierce advocate for the Deaf community. 

Rosie also enjoyed performing (especially lip syncing) and performed at the 1994 Miss Gay Texas and 2004 Miss Deaf California Leather contests.

Rosie was the inspiration to us all. She was always full of laughter, life, happiness, and gave us new perspectives and an appreciation for the world of comedy. She departed from this Earth on July 20, 2006 and is dearly missed.

(Photos of Rosie. Middle photo with Vance Sewell.)

Submitted by: Michael Lloyd Edwards

Greg Smith

Greg Smith, a Remembrance
by Joe Quinn

Greg Smith was a dear friend of mine, and beloved by many in the Deaf and Interpreter communities. Greg was funny, charming and extraordinarily bright, had a great interest in languages and linguistics, and a passion for Russian Literature and language which pre-dated his exposure to ASL.

He learned American Sign Language as a result of his relationship with his Deaf partner, and eventually become a skilled ASL/English Interpreter. At a time when there were few formal Interpreter Training Programs, Greg was committed to continually growing and learning as an Interpreter through his active involvement in Northern California Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (NorCRID), and by taking classes and workshops that were offered in the community.

Like many of us who came into the field in the late 70’s and early 80’s, Greg was deeply involved in the social justice movements and the fight for civil rights in the Deaf Community, the LGBT Community and for people with disabilities. He often volunteered as an Interpreter at rallies and meetings, and was a participant in activities and gatherings sponsored by the Rainbow Deaf Society, the original SF Bay Area Deaf LGBT organization.

Greg was a Staff Interpreter at Laney College, Cal State University at Hayward (now East Bay), and at the Center for Independent Living and also worked as a freelance community Interpreter.

Greg was one of the first people in our community to be diagnosed with AIDS. Although treatment and medication has come a remarkably long way in the ensuing decades, in the early and mid-1980’s, AIDS often resulted in severe illness, debilitation and death. As Greg had been such an active participant in our community, many Interpreters and Deaf people were involved in providing support and care to Greg during the course of his illness.

One of the most remarkable periods I remember from that time was Greg being so ill he needed to be hospitalized in the ICU. Greg’s pneumonia required him to be intubated and he was thus unable to speak. We organized a group of his Interpreter friends to be in the hospital at his side around the clock to interpret for Greg during the weeks he spent in the ICU. Although he could not speak, he was able to sign, and thus could communicate via Interpreters with his doctors and nurses in the ICU. Before their eyes he transformed from a non-communicative “patient”, to a human being who was able to display his sharp wit, sense of humor and keen intelligence. Greg often said after this how grateful he was to have learned Sign Language.

Although there were many poignant moments with Greg during the period of his illness, the most touching was seeing the impact the support of his “beloved community” had on his family. His parents in particular were so moved by the outpouring of love and care to their son from Greg’s friends and colleagues.

After a long and courageous battle with AIDS, Greg passed away in December of 1984. Interpreter colleagues, members of the Deaf Community, family and friends overflowed at Greg’s memorial gathering. Although there was tremendous sadness at his passing, the memorial was indeed a celebration of Greg’s life, and a joyous and at times uproariously funny testimony to the impact he had made on all of our lives.

As a tribute to Greg, NorCRID set up the Greg Smith Memorial Fund in 1985 to help NorCRID members during emergencies, particularly medical emergencies. Every year the money raised at the silent auction at the Annual NorCRID Conference goes to replenish this fund. I was so delighted and touched to see all of the work that went into this year’s auction, and the money raised in tribute to Greg.

Best of all was seeing the picture of my beloved friend, a “twinkle in his eye”, that wonderful face, his smile. Gone far too soon, my dear Greg, but you are still having an impact on our community.

(Note: If you would like to make a donation to NorCRID’s Greg Smith Memorial Fund, visit )


Terry Lewis Mackin, Jr.

Terry Mackin

Terry Lewis Mackin, Jr., was from Charlotte, North Carolina. He was born on December 6, 1981, and passed away in Los Angeles, California on October 11, 2008, at the age of 26 years, from pneumonia-related complications of HIV.

Terry is and will always be fondly remembered by many people, especially those who attended Rochester Institute of Technology from 2000 – 2008. He formed excellent friendships with many Deaf students there. Terry was always there to listen to them, and was there for a lot of the fun and memories. He was one of the most genuine human beings you would ever meet, who could easily make you smile and laugh. He could easily connect with anybody. He never had an enemy, and had in himself a sincere kindness toward all. He saw everything without the slightest malice or reproach. He was one of those rare people who loved people in general with an amazingly positive energy constantly emanating from him – always smiling, always rolling on in pursuit of interesting goals. At RIT, Terry was part of the dance group Flux Fusion, and entertained many with his excellent dancing skills. He graduated with a degree in Business Management in 2008 and departed for Los Angeles with aspirations to become a career dancer. It was briefly after his arrival in Los Angeles that he passed away suddenly. It is exceedingly unfortunate that he never reached his dream in Los Angeles. Many of his friends have expressed the consensus opinion that they were fortunate to have experienced him as a wonderfully positive force in their lives. Terry is deeply missed by those many friends.

(Submitted by Brian Andrew Milburn)

  • Deaf AIDS Awareness