A statement released by Tim Sweeney, president of the Denver-based Gill Foundation, where Mr. McFarlane once worked, said that Mr. McFarlane committed suicide. McFarlane left a note citing back and heart problems that limited his ability to work and travel, the statement said.
In 1981, Before HIV even had a name, Mr. McFarlane set up the very first hotline anywhere, on his own phone. He was one of the original volunteers and the first paid executive director of Gay Men's Health Crisis, the nation's first and largest provider of AIDS client services and public education programs. Mr. McFarlane increased the organization's fundraising from a few thousand dollars to $25 million. Until his death, he was the president emeritus of Bailey House, the nation's first and largest provider of supportive housing for homeless people with HIV.
From 1989 to 1994, he was executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA), merging two small industry-based fundraising groups into a successful and influential AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. During his tenure at BC/EFA, annual revenue increased from less than $1 million to more than $5 million, while also leveraging an additional $40 million annually through strategic alliances with other funders and corporate partnerships. Mr. McFarlane was also a founding member of ACT UP - NY, a protest group responsible for sweeping changes to public policy as well as drug treatment and delivery processes.
Mr. McFarlane's interests were many and varied. A U.S. Navy veteran, he was a licensed nuclear engineer who conducted strategic missions in the North Atlantic and far Arctic regions aboard a fast attack submarine. An athlete and ardent explorer, he was a veteran of seven over-ice expeditions to the North Pole, and competed in the Eco-Challenges in Morocco and Fiji, where he captained an all-gay female-majority team.
He co-authored several books, including Larry Kramer's "The Tragedy of Today's Gays" (Penguin, 2005) and, in 1993, co-produced the Kramer's play The Destiny of Me. His honors include the Patient Advocacy Award from the American Psychiatric Association; the New York City Distinguished Service Award; the Presidential Voluntary Action Award; the Eleanor Roosevelt Award; and the Emery Award from the Hetrick Martin Institute.