Henry van Ameringen, a major donor to LGBTQ+ and HIV organizations, has died at age 90.
Van Ameringen, who died Wednesday, was “a philanthropic giant,” Lambda Legal CEO Kevin Jennings wrote in a post on the organization’s website, adding, “There has been no major advance in the fight for justice for LGBTQ people and everyone living with HIV in which his philanthropy did not play a role.”
Van Ameringen, a gay man, was an executive with New York City-based International Flavors and Fragrances, a company founded by his father, and a member of its board of directors. His philanthropic efforts began in the late 1980s, when AIDS was devastating the gay community.
Beneficiaries of his generosity included Lambda Legal, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, New York City Anti-Violence Project, National Center for Transgender Equality, Ali Forney Center, Griot Circle, Movement Advancement Prohect, and New York’s LGBT Community Center.
In addition to writing checks to these organizations, he was an active volunteer. He prepared and delivered meals for God’s Love We Deliver, which provides food for people living with HIV, cancer, and other diseases.
“When he started volunteering, we didn’t know much about him,” the group’s communications director, Emmett Findley, wrote in a web post. “But he was here every day, quietly putting on his apron to work in the kitchen. When he finished his shift, he’d then head downtown to the LGBT Center to deliver meals to our clients. He just did the work that was needed. Henry’s influence at God’s Love was everywhere.”
He was also a funder of In the Life Media, which produced In the Life, a PBS series on LGBTQ+ people and issues, and helped finance the documentary Stonewall! Rebellion, which aired on MSNBC last year.
He was mindful of the need to support the most marginalized people in the LGBTQ+ community, such as queer seniors of color through Griot Circle and homeless young people through the Ali Forney Center, staffers with these organizations recalled. He provided start-up funding for the Ali Forney Center when it launched in 2002, and this year he wrote a check for $50,000 to help it through the COVID-19 crisis, Carl Siciliano, its former executive director, told New York’s Gay City News.
Van Ameringen, Jennings added in his post, was “deeply committed to racial justice and was often the difference between an organization led by and/or serving people of color being able to make its payroll and keep its doors open or having to shut down. He insisted our movement center the most marginalized and never relented in that commitment.”
The philanthropist was also president of the Van Ameringen Foundation, which makes grants to support mental health services for people and communities with limited means, from 1991 to 2014.
Van Ameringen is survived by his spouse, T. Eric Galloway, and six nieces and nephews, Gay City News reports. Memorial donations may be directed to Fountain House, a New York City mental health services group, or Lambda Legal.