AIDS quilt memorializes York residents lost to disease

Katherine Ranzenberger
  • The AIDS quilt will be on display at Marketview Arts, 37 W. Philadelphia St.
  • The quilt will be on display through Saturday.
  • Eleven of the 12 panels to be on display have York-area ties.

Brian Bubb always knew he wanted to be a fashion designer.

Volunteers set up a display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in the conference room of Penn State York's main classroom building on Nov. 29, 2011. (John A. Pavoncello photo)

"We would go to church on Sunday, and as long as you had a pad of paper and a pencil, he was happy," his mother, Arlene Bubb, said. "He was drawing pictures of the ladies with their hats."

The Spring Garden Township man went on to get a degree from Parsons School of Design. Brian, a Suburban High School grad, worked for such designers as Calvin Klein, Christian Dior, Oscar de la Renta and Perry Ellis.

Eventually, Brian opened his own shop, designing neckties for men in fun designs. He didn't let anything stop him, according to his mom.

AIDS: Bubb said she remembers the first time she heard about AIDS. She was cleaning the bathtub in her Spring Garden Township home, listening to the radio, when the news came on.

"They said what it was and who it affected," she said. "I went into shambles. I knew it could affect him, but I never thought it would be my son."

Bubb said her son was seeing a man in New York City, where his shop was, a place he considered home. The man never told Brian he had AIDS.

"He called one day, and we talked about it," she said. "He asked how we'd react if he told us he had it. I told him we'd love him. We'd care for him. We'd do whatever needed to be done."

Brian died July 8, 1993. It was his sister’s birthday. He was 35.

Quilt: Remembering more than 94,000 people who have died because of AIDS is part of educating the public on the effects of the disease. Family First Health, WellSpan Health and York College are bringing the AIDS Memorial Quilt to York City Thursday through Saturday.

The quilt was first displayed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in October 1987 and had about 1,900 3-foot-by-6-foot panels. As of 2012, the NAMES Project Foundation had seen the quilt grow to more than 48,000 panels, bearing more than 93,000 names. The quilt remains the largest community art project in the world.

“In York County alone, 4 people died from HIV in 2014, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health,” said Kate Harmon, marketing and outreach coordinator for Family First Health. “Statewide, the number stood at 4,320. While the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s is over, HIV is still ever-present in our population, though the use of medication helps make it a manageable, chronic disease.”

Family First worked with families in York County to bring panels that memorialize people who have died from AIDS in the community. Brian Bubb has one panel, which was made by his friends in New York City. Ten other panels are related to those from the York area.

"I am just so excited it's coming," Bubb said. "It's tremendous to see that. It'll be bittersweet."

Brian's panel includes a caricature he made of himself for a study. His panel, along with 11 others, will be on display at Marketview Arts, 37 W. Philadelphia St.

The display will be open to the public 5-9 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. For a full schedule of events, visit

For more information on the AIDS Quilt, visit

— Reach Katherine Ranzenberger at or on Twitter at @YDKatherine.