Judith Peabody, a New York City socialite known well for her causes, as well as her fashion, died on Sunday, according to The New York Times. The Times obituary prominently features her early support of AIDS causes:
In the mid-1980s, after the death of a friend from AIDS, Mrs. Peabody volunteered to work for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. She became a care partner — someone who accepts responsibility for helping an AIDS patient — for dozens of men with AIDS and led support groups for patients’ loved ones and caregivers, in addition to raising money for the organization and donating her own to it.
“Mrs. Peabody was someone who recognized the challenge of AIDS long before it was fashionable,” Marjorie J. Hill, the chief executive of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, said in an interview on Monday. “She did everything she could, on a personal level and an institutional level, to combat the stigma of the disease among people living with H.I.V. and their caretakers. She left her mark on thousands of lives at G.M.H.C.”
As news of the disease's path throughout the world continues, it's always somber and sobering to remember those who, early on, had joined in the fight.
A 1987 Newsday article on her work -- headlined "Fifth Avenue's 'AIDS Lady' Socialite Judith Peabody brings her name and a tireless effort to the fight against the deadly disease" -- puts Peabody's work in perspective:
"When Betty Ford talks about alcocholism, it gets people's attention. When Judy Peabody talks about AIDS, it gets people attention," explains Richard Dunne, executive director of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, who has become close friends with Peabody over the past year.