Until There’s a Cure…
November 11, 2016
SAN ANTONIO AIDS FOUNDATION MOURNS THE PASSING OF FOUNDER “PAPA BEAR” EDWARDS
SAN ANTONIO - Robert “Papa Bear” Edwards, founder of the San Antonio AIDS Foundation, passed away Thursday, November 10. He died of natural causes after a long illness.
CEO Cynthia Nelson has released the following statement:
“The San Antonio AIDS Foundation is profoundly saddened by the passing of our founder, Robert “Papa Bear” Edwards.
“He was San Antonio’s first major HIV/AIDS advocate, founding our organization in 1986 when so many people - even doctors and health care professionals - were terrified of the still relatively unknown virus that causes AIDS. It was a time of fear, panic and desperation for so many - especially in the gay community. People were sick and dying and had nowhere to turn for help or comfort. But thanks to Papa Bear, they found a safe and caring place where they were not shunned or turned away. His hospice work started behind his gay bar, Papa Bear’s, on Broadway near Mahnke Park, then grew to a small rental house nearby, and then eventually to an abandoned nursing home at 818 E. Grayson Street, where we are still headquartered today.
“He not only initiated the first community-based response to the AIDS epidemic in San Antonio, he started the first community-based anonymous HIV testing service. His compassion knew no bounds and his vision laid the groundwork for what has become the city’s oldest and largest HIV/AIDS service agency.
“He retired in 1991, but remained a strong advocate for the fight against HIV/AIDS for the rest of his life. San Antonio owes Papa Bear a huge debt of gratitude for his vision, his tireless work and his dedicated service. And 30 years after its founding, his legacy lives on in the work of the San Antonio AIDS Foundation through our continued mission to prevent the spread of HIV in our community and to offer comprehensive and compassionate service to those who are affected by HIV/AIDS.
“We offer our sincere condolences to Papa Bear’s family and friends. As soon as we have information on final arrangements, we will share them with the public.”
ABOUT THE SAN ANTONIO AIDS FOUNDATION
Founded in 1986, the San Antonio AIDS Foundation commemorates 30 years of service in 2016. It is the oldest and largest HIV/AIDS service organization in Bexar County. Its mission is to prevent the spread of HIV and provide comprehensive services to individuals affected by HIV/AIDS. SAAF’s headquarters and residential services are located at 818 E. Grayson St. and the testing and education offices are at 333 S. Hackberry St. For more information, visit http://www.SanAntonioAIDS.org or call Ken Slavin, vice president of communications, at 225-4715, ext. 141.
The San Antonio AIDS Foundation (SAAF, /sāf/) has a dual mission — to provide compassionate medical care and social services to people with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), and to help prevent the spread of HIV through education, counseling and testing.
We are guided by the belief that HIV/AIDS is a disease and those affected by this disease should receive compassion and understanding. SAAF advocates a harm reduction philosophy believing that all individuals with HIV need compassionate services, including food and shelter, irrespective of their individual circumstances and practices. SAAF exists to provide dignity and comfort to individuals infected with HIV and AIDS. SAAF supports the provision of services without discrimination on any basis, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, handicap, immigrant status, national origin and criminal background.