All of us at AIDS Project Rhode Island were saddened to hear about the passing of Ken Fish on Nov. 24.
Ken was one of the co-founders of APRI 35 years ago, and his immense contributions to the organization and the communities it serves have left an indelible mark.
Ken set up the first Buddy Program at the Project, found free space for the organization when it most needed it, was a very active board member (and board president for a time), and was also a passionate spokesperson, advocate, and organizer.
As a relative newcomer to Rhode Island and APRI only a few years ago, I was immediately part of a larger history and community that had worked tirelessly to ensure people living with and at risk for HIV had access to the care and services they needed. I had the pleasure of meeting Ken for the first time in early 2019 when I approached him about speaking at that year’s AIDS Run/Walk for Life and began chatting with him about our then-upcoming 35th anniversary. When Ken spoke at the Run/Walk for Life in June 2019 he delivered fiery remarks that were a potent reminder of the necessary activism that gave birth to HIV/AIDS activism and service organizations.
After the event, I was thrilled to meet and have coffee with Ken on a few occasions, and it was always illuminating and funny. He was in many ways my local history teacher as he told me about the history of HIV/AIDS activism in Rhode Island and his own stories about the work he did to make sure APRI endured, among many other adventures. I last got to see him this past February when we commemorated the 35th anniversary of the organization he helped start.
In his passing, there is a large hole that the rest of us will have to learn to live with. We are so thankful Ken was here, that he helped APRI thrive, and reminded us of the critical importance of continuing our mission until we see this particular pandemic end.
To see Ken’s obituary, please visit this link.
We miss you already, Ken. Thank you.
On behalf of the team and clients at APRI,
–Mikel Wadewitz, Director