R.I.P.: Robert Ott Boyle, 1950-1989

March 28, 2014

bob boyle
Today I am remembering my friend Bob Boyle, who would have turned 64 today. Bob was an actor and singer whom I met when we were both volunteers with Gay Men’s Health Crisis. Aside from being crisis management partners (visiting, bringing food to, shopping and doing laundry for people with AIDS) and team leaders, we traveled, marched, sang, laughed, cried, went to the theater, and loved a lot. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1986, and his health was fine for a couple of years. On his 39th birthday in 1989, his friend Susan Drew and I took him out for dinner to Cafe des Artistes. In the taxi on the way back to his apartment in Manhattan Plaza, he started acting strangely. He began slurring his speech and struggling to find words. It turned out that he had a brain tumor. He’d been taking AZT, which at that time was prescribed at dosages that later seemed massive, and it had caused lymphoma. Within days he’d lost the ability to walk, talk, or feed himself. He died May 16,  at the age of 39. That was 25 years ago, and the emotions generated in those days are never far from the surface for me.

11 Responses to “R.I.P.: Robert Ott Boyle, 1950-1989”

  1. Charlie Fontana Says:

    Thanks, Don, for this remembrance of Bobby Boyle.

    I met him when we acted in a play together (THE CHANGELING) in New York in 1978.

    After I moved to Japan in ’82, I of course saw much less of Bob.

    But he was the best friend a guy could have.

    • dshewey Says:

      great to hear from you, Charlie!

      • Charlie F Says:

        Hello again, Don —

        Would you happen to know where Bob Boyle is buried?

        I believe his hometown was Patton, PA, kinda near Altoona.

        When driving to Buffalo (my hometown), I periodically pass through that part of Pennsylvania. Am thinking perhaps I could make a stop thereabouts.


        Charlie Fontana in DC


  2. dshewey Says:

    Hi Charlie, Bob is buried in the town cemetery in Patton. I’m sure he’s buried next to his father and possibly his mother, who was unwell last time I heard from her. Say hi for me!

  3. Kristin Weixel Says:

    thanks for sharing your remembrance of Bob, Don. I adored him, as did my parents and siblings, and we think of him often. My first trip to NYC was to stay with Bob and see him in Alice in Wonderland (also my first Broadway show). I think of Bob all the time, especially when I go to a play or see a part I know he would’ve been perfect for. Thank you for taking care of him when he was sick and for giving him such a beautiful eulogy at his funeral.

  4. Ann Mantel Says:

    I met Bob through Glenn Rosenblum. Just so happened we were Manhattan Plaza neighbors- then friends. The end was rough, but I try to remember his performances, how funny and talented he was- and those Feast of Kings parties. My son is named for him. It is so important to remember. Thank you for this.

  5. Kat Weixel Says:

    I was just thinking about Bob tonight and you, even though I only met you twice. I have very few memories of Bob, but the ones I have are so strong and so filled with love and emotion. Please consider yourself hugged, just as I hugged you at Bob’s funeral all those years ago. Sending love your way…

  6. Charlie Fontana Says:

    I believe Bob would’ve turned 68 years old today. I miss him….

    • Kat Weixel Says:

      Looks like he would have been 69 today. I wish I could sit and talk with him. And hug him. I was 12 when he passed away. I wish I’d had more time to get to know him. Luckily my family shared letters and photos and stories with me so I can feel closer to him. What a beautiful person who touched so many lives during his all-too-brief time on this earth. Hugs and love to all of you who loved him, as we are all connected because of him.

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