SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Jack Porter, a San Francisco volunteer who worked tirelessly to establish and maintain the National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park, has died.
According to memorial officials, Porter died last week at the age of 81.
After losing his partner to AIDS in 1989, Porter pushed to transform an overgrown, swampy section of the park into a 10-acre gathering spot for remembrance and reflection.
“That was 1990, so people were dying rapidly – pages of obituaries,” Porter said in a 2016 interview with KPIX 5. “There was a group that got together and said we would love to create some kind of sanctuary or grove or something in the city to remember all these that we keep losing.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi authored legislation in 1996 designating the grove as a national memorial.
“Jack Porter, for nearly three decades was the beating heart of the grove… [his] dedication to the memorial was a testament to his love for his former partner, Stephen Marcus, who left us many years ago,” memorial executive director John Cunningham said in a statement. “Finally, Jack and Stephen are together again and it gives us great peace knowing that.”
A memorial service for Porter will be held at the grove at 5 p.m. on December 1st, which is also World AIDS Day.