By Mike Anglin
Phil Morrow grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and moved to Dallas in 1980 after graduating from the Florida Institute of Technology with a degree in mechanical engineering. He resided in Arlington with his partner, Tim York, and founded his own mechanical engineering business, IMDT, Inc., in Arlington. In his professional life, he was a member of several engineering societies and the Dallas-Fort Worth Minority Purchasing Council. He died on May 12, 1990, of AIDS-related pneumonia. He had dedicated the final years of his life to serving others afflicted with AIDS.
Phil served as president of AIDS Services Dallas (formerly known as the People With AIDS Coalition or “PWA Coalition”) in the late 1980s, during the height of the AIDS epidemic in Dallas.
Two months before his death, Phil spoke at a national AIDS conference in Washington, DC, where he met with President George H.W. Bush. After returning to Dallas, Phil told his colleagues at AIDS Services Dallas that he was more discouraged than ever after meeting with President Bush. The president had delivered a speech earlier that day on the topic of AIDS, which was widely regarded as compassionate but lacking in any new direction for federal AIDS policy. So much was needed; so little was being done.
After Phil's death, Lynn Lipshy, a well-known civic leader in Dallas and friend of Phil's, commented on Phil's complete commitment to the cause of caring for people with AIDS. "Phil was bright, creative, well-educated. It was almost like the tragedy of his disease brought out even more of his best qualities. He devoted his last bit of energy to garner more services for minorities suffering from AIDS."
Jean McGuire, director of the AIDS Action Council in Washington praised Phil, a board member of the organization, for the time he spent helping others while he was battling the disease, himself. "Phil took energy that he couldn't really spare, and that made his presence even more important," she said. "He didn't pretend to be anything special other than what he was, struggling for himself and others."
Don Maison, Executive Director of AIDS Services Dallas, said that Phil brought to the organization his business acumen and an ability to make people of diverse backgrounds understand AIDS. He said Phil was able to touch people from different walks of life, and to open many new doors, because of his background.
In addition to his work with aide services Dallas and the AIDS Action Council, Phil also served on the board of AIDS Arms Network in Dallas, was a member of the National Minority AIDS Council, and sat on the Federal Grants Review Committee of the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington.
In 1989, Phil was also instrumental in forming the Dallas chapter of African-American Coalition Against AIDS, which had been organized to lead the effort of informing the African-American community of its great vulnerability to AIDS. In an interview with the Dallas Morning News in February, 1990, Phil observed that "we cannot blame anyone but ourselves. There is still this general perception that this is a white, gay disease."
Following his death, the staff and directors of AIDS Services Dallas issued this statement on the loss of their leader: “The world needed Phil Morrow. His memory lives in each of us, and in the renewed commitment we share with him to fight AIDS, not people with AIDS. That commitment we share with Phil: to right wrongs, and to revere the voice of reason in the soul, to seek independence from external forces, and to value goodness within us all."