A Married Couple Remembers Those They Lost to AIDS
Over the years, many people have come to StoryCorps to remember those who have died of AIDS. And for those left behind, how to move forward is never an easy path.
Larry Dearmon and Stephen Mills met in 1992, during the height of the AIDS epidemic in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Together for 26 years, the two came to StoryCorps to remember the loss that eventually brought them together.
Larry and Stephen have been together for 26 years. The two were married in 2013, a day that Larry calls “the best day of my life.”
Top photo: Larry Dearmon and Stephen Mills at their StoryCorps interview in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2015. By Natalia Fidenholtz for StoryCorps.
Middle photo: Michael Braig poses for a photo in Frankfurt, Germany. He succumbed to AIDS in 1991. Courtesy Larry Dearmon.
Bottom photo: Stephen Mills and Larry Dearmon pose for a photo on their wedding day at Lake Tahoe in 2013. Courtesy Larry Dearmon.
Originally aired November 30, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Kayla Wilson and Wendy Founds
In this story, we hear two interviews, recorded ten years apart.
When Kayla Wilson was 13 years old, her mother, Wendy Founds, was arrested and convicted on multiple felony drug charges. Wendy was sentenced to three years in state prison, leaving behind Kayla and her two younger sisters. Kayla went to live with her father; she said she struggled to make sense of what happened and how to manage life without her mother.
During the period that Wendy was incarcerated, her mother Teri Lyn Coulter-Colclasure took her granddaughter Kayla to visit her mom. The visits helped to re-build Kayla and Wendy’s relationship, but Kayla still had trouble coping. So in 2006, Teri Lyn asked Kayla to come to StoryCorps (pictured together in 2006, right) to talk about the impact that Wendy’s addiction and incarceration had on the family. Kayla openly wondered what life would be like upon her mother’s return.
Wendy was released from prison in 2008; she was in recovery and hoped to reunite with her family. But the road to re-entry was not always smooth. Wendy lost irretrievable time with friends and family, some of whom were not quick to forgive. And while Kayla’s prison visits helped pave the way to reconciliation with her mom, questions remained.
In 2016, Kayla brought her mom to StoryCorps to talk about where they are today.
Originally aired January 5, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition
Producer’s Note: In 2017, Kayla is a high school teacher in Benton, Arkansas. Wendy lives with Kayla and counsels other parents who are struggling with addiction. In March 2016, Wendy was granted a pardon for her felony convictions from the governor of Arkansas.
Top Photo: Kayla and Wendy in 2016. Photo credit: Morgan Feigel-Stickles.
Darlene Lewis and James Taylor
When Darlene Lewis’ son was released from prison 20 years ago, he couldn’t find work. So, Darlene decided to do something about it.
She founded an organization dedicated to helping former inmates find jobs. Darlene prepares them for interviews, places them with local businesses, and advocates for them in court.
She’s helped thousands of men and women—including James Taylor, who served seven years for weapons possession and drug charges. Today, James works as a videographer, youth mentor, and also volunteers for Darlene’s organization.
Darlene and James came to StoryCorps to talk about their relationship.
Originally aired January 8, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Karama Neal and Judge Olly Neal
Judge Olly Neal grew up in Arkansas during the ’50s and didn’t care much for high school. One day he cut class and wandered into the library. It’s there he came across a book by African-American author Frank Yerby. The provocative cover piqued his interest, but Olly had a rough-and-tumble reputation to uphold. So rather than check out the book and have his classmates see he was voluntarily reading, he stole it.
He came to StoryCorps to tell his daughter Karama Neal about what happened next.
Check out Judge Olly Neal’s story as a StoryCorps animated short, “The Treasures of Mrs. Grady’s Library.”
Originally aired on October 2, 2009, on NPR’s Morning Edition. A rebroadcast aired on September 27, 2019 on the same program.
Jo Ann and Bob Chew
Jo Ann Chew, who has Alzheimer’s disease, talks with her husband, Bob, about how they met, their life together, and how they are coping with her diagnosis. Jo Ann’s one regret is “Just not having control of…my thoughts and my actions. And I don’t think it’s fair to you, either.”
Originally aired February 9, 2007, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Johnnie Tyson and Sandra Fleming
Johnnie Tyson (left), who weighed 250 lbs when she was 9 years old, talks with her niece Sandra Fleming about the difficulties of growing up obese. “You have to be extremely heavy before you understand what a painful situation it is. I really believe it helps me to establish an empathy with most any problem that people have.”
Originally aired January 19, 2007, on NPR’s Morning Edition.