Malcolm Pace (1949 - 1989)
Malcolm Edward Pace was born April 7, 1949 in San Jose, California, to Dr. Joseph L. and Pauline Pace. He died January 13, 1989 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
AIDS Show to Focus On Utah Family's Loss of a Loved One
by Anne Palmer
Salt Lake Tribune, February 19, 1989 pp. B1, B3.
© Salt Lake Tribune
A son in a Utah Mormon family who died of AIDS is the subject of a television documentary likely to focus national attention on the state.
The PBS special about families coping with AIDS is centered on the 50 relatives of Malcolm Pace, who brought their son and brother home to Salt Lake City to die last month.
The 39-year-old San Jose attorney, a homosexual, struggled to gain acceptance in a large Mormon family. He discussed that issue, his fears about dying, and how he rectified longstanding problems with his family in interviews conducted in the weeks before his death. The program, part of a national news and documentary series called AIDS Quarterly, airs on KUED Feb. 28.
Among the issues the Pace family's story points up is the torment many gay men and women who are shunned by their families experience. Some have described being diagnosed with AIDS as a blessing or ultimatum.
Malcolm Pace had the opportunity to be reunited with his family before he died.
"The last three weeks of his life he sensed love like he never had before," said his father, Dr. Joseph L. Pace.
Dr. Pace found out that his son had AIDS two weeks before he and his wife, Pauline, left on a proselyting mission to China for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"He came down to the [Mission Training Center in Provo] and told us he had clinical AIDS. We pondered about the thing and decided to go ahead and go to China for a year," said Dr. Pace, who after living for years in Northern California has returned to Utah for good.
At the time Malcolm told his parents about his fatal illness, he was staying in Sandy with his sister, Niki Ford. She recalled that her brother was "very bitter" about the way their parents had reacted to the news.
"He felt abandoned," said another of Malcolm's younger sisters, Shauna Taylor. "I don't think he wanted them to go."
But it had been more than a decade since Malcolm had felt a part of the Pace clan, a close and boisterous family with four boys and three girls. He had become more a part of the family of friends, a group of gay men who according to his dad were his extended family.
"He came to us in 1973 and said he thought he was gay so we spent money for two years with a psychiatrist. He wanted to know. And when he found out for sure, he had severe depressions. He was suicidal and so forth, and then he went to the bottle for two years," said Dr. Pace, a retiree who has had many professions. He had a medical practice in San Jose for nearly 40 years, where he was a councilman, and mayor. He had a real estate development company in Reno, and does contract work in Utah now, as a health consultant.
"I've seen people die of cancer and all these things for years, but there's something different about AIDS because of something--I don't know what it is. Social stigma or secrecy. I don't know why," he shrugged.
By sharing emotional experiences, talking about things he did as a parent that he came to regret, he hopes he can "help others out so they don't have such a hard time."
While the impending publicity is bound to make some of the Pace's family and friends very uncomfortable, Malcolm's immediate family considers it worthwhile if only one other family benefits.
Malcolm worked for Pace-Tek, the family company in Reno. He lived there for the last five years, and wanted to stay. But in December he nearly died and had what his family considers a miracle comeback. Then he agreed it would be easier if he moved.
"I said, 'Malcolm, I don't want you to die alone,' and he said he didn't want that either," said sister Niki.
Arrangements were made to have his Nevada health maintenance organization contract cancelled, and Malcolm was flown to Utah on an air ambulance.
After he was brought to Salt Lake City, family members took turns spending nights with Malcolm in a West Valley convalescent center, and finally at St. Mark's Hospital. In all the facilities where he was cared for, Malcolm's nurses remarked how unusual it was for a family to show such compassion.
His family was astounded to see others dying of AIDS all alone.
"We noticed the affect our visits had on nurses--to have someone with AIDS that people cared about. You could just tell that it was a different experience for them. We said to ourselves, 'Well what about those that aren't getting this kind of attention," Dr. Pace said.
They just were overwhelmed that he would have so many people around. He'd call in the middle of the night. He'd be scared to death of dying and my daughters would com spend the rest of the night. We set the watch so that someone would be with him each night.
They agreed to include the cause of death in his obituary.
One friend who found out approached Malcolm's parents, saying, "You mean you're going to go public with this?" And Dr. Pace asked, "Why not?"
"I have absolutely stopped trying to say he's got cancer, or he's got pneumonia. I've got a son that's got AIDS. Period. That the way it is. We absolutely have stopped trying to make up any stories about anything. And we have found that people like it....not all of them, because people tend to be hesitant. But by-and-large we won't get people who tell us they resent it, because that would be impolite," he said, launching into stories of other Mormon faithful with gay children who have confided their feelings of anguish.
For others in the family, particularly Malcolm's brothers Craig and Nathan, Dr. Pace said it was difficult to accept things.
"I found out that fathers and brothers are harder on gay sons or brothers than mothers or daughters are," said Dr. Pace.
"I don't come out like an angel in any way. With my son, I was....it was very difficult when he came to us and said he thought he was gay."
His sister Niki agreed that it was easier for her to handle things than for her parents, and some of her brothers and sisters. "A year ago everyone else in the family was still quiet about it," she said.
"We discusses it among ourselves, and were were supportive to Malcolm, but we just did not feel like it was something to be discussed in public," interjected Shauna.
None of the family members could recall a reason or time that their attitudes changed and they agreed to be interviewed by reporters from Boston PBS station, and later by the Tribune.
"We keep asking ourselves Why? because there are bound to be people who think we are exhibitionists," added Niki.
Dr. Pace suggested, and his daughters agreed, that being interviewed about the profound changes in their lives that were a result of one family member's fatal, sexually transmitted disease was a catharsis.
Some of their most intimate moments were shared with people who weeks earlier were strangers. they permitted funeral services at Larkin Mortuary to be filmed, and invited camera crews to a family gathering afterwards in Springville, where Malcolm was buried.
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