“Frannie took the nearly invisible movement of AIDS activism in Maine and made it instantly respectable… We were out to stop the disease, nothing less, and Frannie was going to be our Joan of Arc.”
– John Preston
Through our name and our work, we are proud to honor the memory and celebrate the legacy of Frances W. Peabody (1903-2001), whose great energy and vision continue to be instrumental in providing HIV/AIDS services and programs in Southern Maine.
Catapulted into the HIV/AIDS epidemic at the age of 80, when her eldest grandchild was diagnosed with AIDS, Frannie devoted herself wholeheartedly for the next 18 years to the needs of people with HIV/AIDS, their families and friends, and organizations that serve them.
Following the death of her grandson in 1984, Frannie joined an AIDS support group. She was the only straight, white-haired, elderly woman in a group of young gay men. Frannie went on to change the landscape of HIV/AIDS education and services in Maine, helping to establish Maine’s first AIDS hotline in 1985, Portland’s The AIDS Project (TAP) in 1985, and co-founding Peabody House in 1995.
For over 10 years, Frannie led a weekly support group for mothers, friends and family members of people with HIV/AIDS. The national leader in the Colonial Dames talked openly about condoms and sexuality to whomever would listen and was a staunch supporter of gay rights. Frannie testified before the Maine Legislature on the gay rights bill and in her final years was the Grand Marshall for the annual Gay Pride Parade in Portland.
Following her death in June 2001, leaders from both Peabody House and The AIDS Project decided that naming the new, merged organization Frannie Peabody Center was the most fitting way to honor her legacy of service and advance compassionate care for years to come.
Recognized in Maine and nationally for her extraordinary leadership in the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Frannie Peabody’s remarkable life of service and activism is an inspiration to all of those who work and volunteer at Frannie Peabody Center.
Click here to learn more about Frances W. Peabody.