Frank Logan 1970-1995
AN OPEN LETTER from JEFF GREMILLION.
I usually get emotional when I think of Frank Logan. Not only because he passed away much too soon, at age 24, in the middle of the beginning of his career as an entertainer, but also because he never knew how his life and sad death would inspire so many to accomplish so much.
As many of my friends know, I’m honored to have co-chaired last year’s “Sing For Hope” gala for Bering Omega Community Services. I’ve attended dozens, if not hundreds, of galas in Houston, but I had never chaired one, until then. In a way, I did it for Frank. Let me explain.
Truth is, I never even met the guy, a tall and ridiculously good-looking singer with strawberry-blond hair, boyish freckles and masculine-but-sweet features that belied his inner grit and old soul. He was poetic and funny, I’m told, and always ready to defend and comfort a friend in trouble. And, in his early 20s, he was on a path to great things.
A graduate of Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts—Beyoncé’s school!—he’d made his way up to the Manhattan School of Music in New York. By his senior year he was setting the world on fire; Stephen Sondheim himself had seen him perform and offered rave reviews!
Then came the cold. The winter of 1995 was a bitter one back East—one of the worst in decades—and Frank fell ill.
He took a leave from school and came home to Houston to recuperate. He called his old high school classmate Camille Zamora—now a famous opera singer who I’m proud to call a friend—to say he was under the weather and headed south. What he did not tell her, or any of his family or other friends, was that he was fighting something much worse than a bad flu bug. Frank had AIDS, and he was dying.
I shudder to imagine why he’d keep such an awful secret. But by the time he got home from New York, emaciated and weak, there was no hiding the fact. He needed love and support, and he needed to be hospitalized.
“Visiting him at the county hospital was painful,” recalls Camille. Overworked nurses couldn’t give him the care he needed. He’d get his meals, but nobody would help him eat them. The food would get cold, and Frank would go hungry.
Hospital counselors suggested the Omega House hospice. Frank already knew the place; long before he’d ever imagined he’d be fighting AIDS himself, he’d been a volunteer there. It was near his old high school in Montrose. The neighborhood that had once helped him find his stirring voice was now ready to help him find peace and surrender.
The warmly smiling folks at intimate, homey Omega House not only fed him, but they also played Scrabble with him and took him on walks. “When he died six weeks later,” says Camille, “it was in a beautiful private room with clouds painted on the ceiling, surrounded by friends and family, with dignity.”
Camille was so moved by the experience, she soon organized a small concert fundraiser for Omega House and its parent nonprofit, Bering Omega Community Services, which to this day offers a range of health and social services for people in Houston who don’t have the personal resources to manage their HIV/AIDS diagnosis. She called the event “Sing For Hope”.
Nineteen years later, Sing For Hope is going strong. The annual affair—now a black-tie dinner and concert featuring Camille and other star vocalists—has raised more than $2.8 million for Bering Omega. It’s helped tens of thousands of our neighbors live happier, healthier lives, and, as fate has required, it’s helped more than a thousand more end their fight with grace, touched by mercy.
When I was asked to co-chair last year’s Sing For Hope with auto dealer and Fashion Houston founder Jared Lang, I said yes, in memory of a man I never knew.
Frank Logan would be 42 if he were alive today, two months to the day older than me. We’d be contemporaries, surely, and maybe even friends. We were only a few blocks apart on the Upper West Side of Manhattan when he was in music school and I was in journalism school there. He passed away just a few blocks from where I now make my home in Montrose.
I wish he was headlining the concert this month, but I’ll accept that he’s its guardian angel. He’ll be watching over us, wishing us well, and, I just know, singing along. Many of my friends have already committed to support Sing For Hope and Bering Omega. Thank you all.