Williamsburg Artist Recalls Coordinating AIDS Quilt Panels Memorializing Area Residents

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AIDS Memorial Quilt

In 2003, Mark Douglas took on task of creating quilt panels memorializing five Williamsburg residents who had passed from AIDS. As a board member of the Williamsburg AIDS Network, he took on the project as a memorial to his friends, knowing that the panels would be sent to the NAMES Project, the organization responsible for creating the famous AIDS Memorial Quilt.

“I knew that the first step would be to speak with the families of the men who lost their lives to AIDS,” he said. “Through working with them, I got to know the men better as I collected information. Then it became easier to honor each of them with a unique panel design.”

When he was done, Mark had created panel concept designs for Doug Dittman, Peter Coady, Nelson Walsh, John Shumaker, and David Frank. He worked with local artist, Rosemarie Kammer, to bring the panels to life. When they were completed, they were sown into one 3’ x 6’ block. In December 2003, Mark and the community saw the finished pieces when they were put on display at the College of William and Mary.

Afterwards, they sent the block to the NAMES Project. It was one of 1,000 new panels added to the quilt since its last full display in October of 1996 (it covered the entire National Mall.)

AIDS Memorial Quilt
The newest blocks were displayed the weekend of June 26, 2004, on The Ellipse in D.C. in observance of National HIV Testing Day.

Mark was there.

“This was one of the most meaningful projects of my life,” Douglas said. “To see then on display at William & Mary was great. But to then actually see them on the mall in DC with thousands of other panels–I was speechless for hours.”

The project was funded by the Kephart Foundation and the Williamsburg Junior Women’s Club.

For more about the AIDS Memorial Quilt, visit www.aidsquilt.org.


Mark Douglas is the president of M. Douglas Interior Design. He lives in Williamsburg with his husband.