The needle exchange David Purchase started in 1988 in downtown Tacoma was quickly copied across the nation, leading his friends and associates to call him a public health hero.
All he wanted to do was prevent the spread of HIV-AIDS among drug users.
“When he began talking about the needle exchange, his sense of social justice, Dave didn’t have a neutral gear or a reverse gear,” said Lyle Quasim, a friend since 1970. “Dave only had forward gears.”
His daughter, Becky Purchase Ford, told The News Tribune that he died Monday.
The Tacoma program, which was controversial at first, is now run by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
Purchase went on to found the North American Syringe Exchange and the Point Defiance AIDS Project and was instrumental in programs that began as far away as Australia and Italy.
“He was the instigator, and everyone else was a supporting actor,” said Terry Reid, who worked with Purchase at substance-abuse programs.
Dennis Flannigan, a friend since high school and a former state lawmaker and Pierce County councilman, remembers Purchase being asked to testify before Congress on needle-exchange programs.
“He was a lovable, determined man, but he told them, `You’re letting people die’ by not supporting the effort,” Flannigan said. “He challenged authority in such an articulate, measured way, you could not defeat his logic.”
Purchase also was a photographer for Boeing and shot test flights.
More Northwest Headlines
Forest Service wants more controlled burns in Washington 2:25 p.m. Washington colleges prepared for campus shootings after SPU 12:56 p.m. Obama’s biref visit to Seattle reportedly raises $1.5 million for Sen. Murray 12:50 p.m. ‘Lucky one’ in Roseburg shooting speaks about massacre Obama stumps for Sen. Patty Murray in Seattle Obama says ‘it’s about the families’ after Oregon meeting Reichert to announce decision on governor’s race next week State sues contractor building Seattle tunnel
Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.