Paul Graham Popham



Paul seen here in plaid shirt, front row with other GMHC members


Paul Graham Popham (1942-1987) was an AIDS activist and co Founder of the Gay Mens Health Crisis and elected their first President from 1981 to 1985. He also helped found the AIDS Action Council, a lobbying organization in Washington, and was chairman of the group.


Mr. Popham was born in Emmett, Idaho. He graduated from Portland (Ore.) State College.


In 1966, as a first lieutenant in the Fifth Air Cavalry in Vietnam, he was decorated with the Bronze Star for valor after his platoon had served as a lure for North Vietnamese soldiers. In the firefight, a North Vietnamese unit was destroyed, according to Mr. Popham's brother, David, of Boise, Idaho.
Paul Popham retired as a Special Forces major in the Army Reserve in 1969, after having led a psychological warfare unit in the United States, his brother said. Newspaper Article on AIDS


From 1969 until 1980, Mr. Popham worked for the Irving Trust Company, leaving as a vice president. He joined McGraw-Hill Inc., where he was general manager of a division.


David Popham and friends of Paul Popham said Mr. Popham never took an active political role until he read a newspaper article in 1981 about the disease that became known as AIDS.


''His history had been quite the opposite from a gay activist,'' the president of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, Richard D. Dunne, said. ''It was only an issue like AIDS that galvanized people like Paul.''


Mr. Popham was one of a half-dozen founders of the group and remained active in that organization and in the lobbying group until his illness, diagnosed in February 1985, became too severe, friends said.