William J. Urban, founder, publisher and editor of theBaltimore Alternative, a gay newspaper, died yesterday of complications to AIDS. He was 37.
Mr. Urban had battled AIDS for almost six years. In the years since his diagnosis, he chronicled his experiences with the illness in articles appearing in community publications on the Eastern Shore, where he was raised, as well as in his own newspaper.
He was born in Lancaster, Pa. He graduated from Kent High School in Worton in 1973 and attended several colleges and universities, including the University of California at Santa Barbara and, in Baltimore, Loyola College and Coppin State College.
As a student, Mr. Urban worked as a congressional page for then-Rep. Rogers C.B. Morton, a Maryland Republican, and received an Outstanding Young Men of America award in 1979. He worked as a systems controller for USF&G from 1978 to 1981, and as a reporter and advertising sales manager for the Baltimore Gaypaper in 1984 and 1985.
Mr. Urban founded the Baltimore Alternative in 1986, committing the newspaper to extensive coverage of the AIDS epidemic, and to the civil and privacy rights of gays and lesbians.
Mr. Urban was particularly interested in educating young people about the dangers of acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and was in great demand as a public speaker, appearing before several high school audiences in Maryland.
"He could not stand injustice," said Garey Lambert, a friend who is associate editor of the Alternative and director of AIDS Action Baltimore. "And he was feisty and tenacious in his battles. His specific battle had to do with AIDS and gay rights, but injustice was the thing that was at the core of his anger. He just could not stand it."
Mr. Urban frequently called the hosts of radio talk shows and debated with them, feeling they had maligned the gay community and people with AIDS. He said he knew he never could change their minds, but could not allow their views to go unchallenged.
"He was not afraid of any battle, or any fight or anybody in any fight," Mr. Lambert said. "He went right after them if he thought he had a case."
Until deteriorating health curtailed his activities in recent months, Mr. Urban was a member of the board of directors of the Chase-Brexton Clinic; the steering committee of the AIDS Interfaith Council of Baltimore; the Baltimore Justice Campaign, and the AIDS Partnership Council.
He was a founding member of the People with AIDS Coalition in Baltimore.
Mr. Urban is survived by his parents, Harvey and Ann Greenwood of Chestertown, and his life-partner, Charles Mueller.
The family suggested memorial contributions to AIDS Action Baltimore Inc., 2105 N. Charles St. 21218.