AIDS quilt: warm memories of loved ones

June 05, 1991|By Henry Scarupa

James Schuman and Colleen Bowers have dedicated themselves in recent days to plying needle and thread, their urgency prompted by the return to Baltimore today of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.

The two quilters, who belong to the Presbyterian AIDS Network and sing together in the choir at Brown Memorial Park Avenue United Presbyterian Church, have been hurrying to complete three new panels, honoring friends who have died recently of acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

Theirs will be among 100 new panels created by local churches and faith communities for dedication during the quilt's stay here in connection with the AIDSWALK '91 fund-raiser Sunday.

Since AIDS was first diagnosed by the Centers for Disease Control 10 years ago, more than 2,000 people in Maryland have succumbed to the human immunodeficiency virus.

Thirty of the quilt's panels will hang in the Convention Center lobby, while 10 others will be at Old Otterbein Church at Conway and Sharp streets. The new additions will be on display in various houses of worship around town.

The quilt, which has traveled around the country, was last here in 1988 at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Many panels have been added since then, reflecting the ever-increasing AIDS death toll.

For Mr. Schuman and Ms. Bowers, the project has special poignancy. Two of the men for whom they're sewing panels -- Donald Arenth and "Clown Bob" -- were members of the choir at Brown Memorial Church. (Clown Bob is a name Mr. Schuman invented for one of the men -- whose hobby was clowning -- after his family declined to have him identified publicly.) The third 3-by-6-foot panel memorializes Steven Mark Eicher, the son of a friend of Mr. Schuman's.

"Anyone seeing the quilt has to have a very positive reaction to it because it is so amazing," said Mr. Schuman, a supervisor for Maryland Unemployment Insurance and a former Methodist minister.

*

Below are events related to the 10th anniversary of the first AIDS

diagnosis:

* A "celebration of life in the midst of crisis" program will be held at Old Otterbein Church, Conway and Sharp streets, today from 6:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. Call 685-1230.

* Sunday's fourth annual AIDSWALK, coordinated by the Health Education Resource Organization, hopes to recruit more than 7,000 walkers to raise a record $375,000. Funds will be used to support HERO and other AIDS service providers. Activities start at 8 a.m. at Garland Field on the Homewood campus of Hopkins University. Call 685-1230.

* Publication party 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday for "The Guide to Living with HIV Infection" by Dr. John Bartlett and Ann Finkbeiner, who will present a lecture and answer questions. The party, which is free, will be held at Lambda Rising Bookstore at DTC 241 W. Chase St. Call 234-0069.

* The First National Children With HIV-AIDS Awareness Day will be held 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 11 at the Washington Mall. Celebrities will include singer Tiffany and actors Tina Yothers, Khrystyne Haje, Alfonso Ribeiro, Charnele Brown and Jason Hervey. Call (202) 338-1900.

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