William Trent Royster died in Washington on Jan. 7 at the age of 51. He was gay and a long-term survivor of HIV. He died of complications from kidney failure and HIV/AIDS.
Royster was born Jan. 3, 1960 in Rochester, N.Y., the son of Gladys and Graham Royster. He was a graduate of the Harley School in Rochester and Tufts University in Medford, Mass. At Tufts he received a bachelor’s degree in political science and was a member of Theta Chi Fraternity. He also spent many summers attending and working at the Highfields Camp in Union, Maine.
In Rochester he worked for the R.T. French Co., Hutchins Young & Rubicam and the Aquagenesis Wholistic Center. At a time when others living with HIV were silenced, he dedicated his life to improving the situation of the LGBT community and those affected by HIV at the local, state and national level.
Royster served on the boards of AIDS Rochester from 1994 to 2001, serving as vice president in 1998-99, and of the Rochester Area Task Force on AIDS. In 1998, he joined the board of AIDS, Medicine & Miracles, ultimately chairing the organization in 2001-02, and influenced many families affected by HIV through his work with Camp SOAR in Rochester and Family Unity in Lake Luzerne, New York. He was also affiliated with the Advertising Council of Rochester, the Black Gay & Lesbian Leadership Forum and the Empire State Pride Agenda.
In 2001, Royster moved to Washington to live with his partner, whom he had been dating about a year and was with until he died. He worked for Us Helping Us and the District of Columbia Department of Health, served on the board of Human Rights Campaign and volunteered with Burgundy Crescent. Other affiliations included the National Minority AIDS Council, D.C. Black Pride and the National Association of People with AIDS. He spent time living with his partner in Jerusalem and while there volunteered with Seeds of Peace.
He is survived by his partner, Charles “Chuck” Hunter; mother Gladys Royster; brother Anthony Royster; niece LaTonya Royster; nephew Anthony Royster Jr.; aunts Mildred Burs, Willie Mae Brown, and Eula Brown; several grand-nieces and -nephews and numerous cousins. Royster is also survived by friends Ken Wilson, Carolyn Covington and Robyn Jones, whom he considered family.
Memorial services were held at All Souls Episcopal Church last week in Washington. Donations can be made in Royster’s memory to the Trevor Project of Washington, Us Helping us, So Others Might Eat or SMYAL. A Rochester service is also planned but no date has been set.