Editor’s note: This story was originally published Aug. 18, 1992, in The Dallas Morning News.
Graveside services for Ronald Woodroof, founder of the Dallas Buyer’s Club, an underground supplier of experimental AIDS medications, were held Monday at Restland Memorial Park in Dallas. Memorial services will be announced later.
Mr. Woodroof died of AIDS Saturday at his Dallas home. He was 42.
The Dallas native attended South Garland High School, then studied photography for a few years and later electronics at various Dallas-area schools.
He was a licensed electrical contractor until 1986, when he doctors told him that he had been infected with the AIDS virus and had six weeks to live, said his girlfriend, Deb McGregor of Fort Worth. She said he then decided against mainstream medicine and began searching for alternative therapies.
Mr. Woodroof began trying medications that had not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because he had heard they were helping others live longer, said his mother, Billie Hughes Woodroof.
The FDA considers many of the experimental drugs unproven and even dangerous, although many people who use them feel they have little to lose and believe the drugs can extend their lives.
“When he set a goal, he met it,’ said Mrs. Woodroof. “When he first told me (that he had AIDS), I asked him, “What are you going to do about this?’ and he told me, “I’m not going to just sit down and die.’ “
A few months later, Mrs. Woodroof said, she lent her son a thousand dollars to go to Mexico to buy drugs.
She said he thought the drugs helped him, and he wanted to help others.
Mr. Woodroof made more trips, gathering more medications, and started the Dallas Buyer’s Club. It smuggles experimental AIDS medications that have not been approved by the FDA and sells them to about 4,000 people across the country.
Mr. Woodroof was responsible for finding medication sources, smuggling the drugs and finding laboratories to test them for purity. His search for medication often took him to Mexico, Japan and Denmark.
“He was a maverick, an inspiration and offered hope to thousands of people and worked hard for what he believed in,’ said Miss McGregor. “With his belief and self-will, he was able to live as long as he did.’
Other survivors include his daughter, Yvette Sweden of Odessa; a sister and brother-in-law, Sharon and Eugene Braden of Red Oak; and an uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Schulz of Richardson.
Mr. Woodroof’s father, Garland Woodroof, died in 1983.
Memorials may be made to the AIDS Resource Center, the AIDS Foundation or V.N.A. Hospice.