William Way, 1942-1988
Better known as Bill to friends and colleagues, William Way was the Associate Executive Director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and an LGBT activist. Bill was recognized by his peers as a doer, an organizer and a leader. Former Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode said of him, “Bill had a passion for Philadelphia’s neighborhoods and their problems. He personified the words ‘public servant.’ ”
1985 – Community Center without Walls
After the Lesbian & Gay Community Center at 222 S Camac St. closed, Bill joined the New Center Project Committee which was conducting surveys and planning for a future building.
Bill helped to keep the Center alive as the co-chair of “Penguin Place, the Community Center without Walls,” creating fundraisers, events and programs even though the Center had no physical building. He hosted committee meetings every Tuesday at his home; his organizational skills went a long way to get Penguin Place off the ground and keep it alive.
1987 – Bringing Awareness to the AIDS Epidemic
When Bill Way was diagnosed with AIDS, he was adamant about being open about it. He was furious that newspapers at the time were not reporting deaths as being related to AIDS. In the fall of 1987, even though he was ill himself, he volunteered two hours a day to the first AIDS Walk, which Penguin Place sponsored.
1988 – William Way’s Death
Bill died at Graduate Hospital on January 7, 1988 at the age of 45. His memorial service at Saint Luke’s was thronged with friends, neighbors, activists and colleagues.