Henry van Ameringen, Friend of L.G.B.T.Q. Causes, Dies at 89


Henry Pfaltz van Ameringen was born on Oct. 19, 1930, in South Orange, N.J. His father, Arnold Louis van Ameringen, was a founder of International Flavors and Fragrances, a multibillion-dollar international business; at his death in 1966, obituaries noted his longstanding support for mental health causes. His mother, Hedwig (Pfaltz) van Ameringen, who died in 1996, was known inn particular for supporting the New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

In a rare interview, with the New York City television channel NY1 in 2010, Mr. van Ameringen spoke of his coming of age in repressive times. “I knew very early that I was gay, so it was very uncomfortable growing up,” he said. “I don’t really have very happy memories.”

After graduating from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, he lived in Paris for several decades. He went into the family business and retired as European vice president for fragrance marketing.

In addition to participating in his family’s foundation, Mr. van Ameringen formed his own in 1967, the H. van Ameringen Foundation. When AIDS began to devastate the gay community, he donated to organizations that responded to the crisis.

“I’ve never been very political,” he wrote in The Huffington Post in 2012. “But in the 1980s the AIDS epidemic began, and staying on the sidelines was simply not an option. The government was doing absolutely nothing to halt the spread of this disease nor help those who were suffering.”

Mr. Jennings recalled Mr. van Ameringen as a man who didn’t write checks casually; he would probe and question and tell you what he thought, sometimes bluntly. Mr. Jennings found that out in the early 1990s, when he had lunch with Mr. van Ameringen to seek support for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (now known as GLSEN), an organization he and others had started to support L.G.B.T.Q. youth.

“He turned to me and he said, ‘Just so you know, I think your organization is a terrible idea and will give ammunition to our opponents,’” Mr. Jennings recalled. (Right-wing groups at the time had stoked unfounded fears that homosexual men recruited children.) “‘You have one hour to change my mind.’”



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