Ganga Stone, Who Gave Sustenance to AIDS Patients, Dies at 79

Ganga Stone, who survived on odd jobs in Manhattan till she found that her life’s mission was to deliver free home made meals to bedridden AIDS sufferers on her bicycle, then expanded her volunteer corps of cooks and couriers into a permanent group known as God’s Love We Deliver, died on Wednesday in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. She was 79.

Her loss of life, at a well being care facility, was confirmed by her daughter, Hedley Stone. She stated a trigger had not been decided.

In 1985, Ms. Stone was promoting espresso from a cart on Wall Street and feeling unfulfilled. She got here to the conclusion, she later advised The New York Times, that “if my life were not useful to God in some direct way, I didn’t see the point in living it.”

But whereas volunteering at the Cabrini Hospice on the Lower East Side, she had an epiphany. She was requested to ship a bag of groceries to Richard Sale, a 32-year-old actor who was dying of AIDS. When she realized that he was too weak to cook dinner, she rounded up mates, who agreed to deliver him sizzling meals.

“I had never seen anyone look that bad,” she recalled. “He was starving, and he was terrified.”

Legend has it that when she returned to the neighborhood with meals tailor-made to Mr. Sale’s dietary wants, she ran right into a minister, who acknowledged her. When she advised him what she was doing, he replied: “You’re not just delivering food. You’re delivering God’s love.” (In one other model of the origin story, Ms. Stone stated she was brushing her enamel when she envisioned “We Deliver” indicators on restaurant storefronts.)

“It’s the perfect thing — it’s so nonsectarian it’s impossible to misunderstand,” she advised The New Yorker in 1991.

The fledgling group — made up of Ms. Stone and some mates, together with her roommate, Jane Ellen Best, with whom she based the group — started by delivering meals, home-cooked or donated by eating places, to largely homosexual males who had been too incapacitated by a then-mysterious illness to store or cook dinner. They left their orders on her answering machine.

Not everybody needed a gourmand meal.

“One guy wanted a can of Cheez Whiz and saltines,” Ms. Stone stated.

In the primary yr alone, 400 of their shoppers died.

As the epidemic unfold, the group attracted publicity and help from non secular teams, authorities companies and celebrities. (Blaine Trump, the previous spouse of former President Donald J. Trump’s brother Robert, is the vice-chairwoman.)

This yr, God’s Love We Deliver, with a funds of $23 million, hopes to distribute 2.5 million meals to 10,000 folks within the New York metropolitan space who’re homebound with numerous ailments.

Ms. Stone in 1993. “I’ve always been attracted to working with dying people,” she stated, “since it seems to me that there’s no more important moment in a human life than that one.”Credit…Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Ingrid Hedley Stone was born on Oct. 30, 1941, in Manhattan and raised in Long Island City, Queens, and the Bronx. Her father, M. Hedley Stone, a Jewish immigrant from Warsaw who was born Moishe Stein, was a Marxist who was an organizer for the National Maritime Union and later its treasurer.

Her mom, Winifred (Carlson) Stone, a daughter of Norwegian immigrants, was a librarian (she established the library for the National Council on Aging), who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s illness when Ms. Stone was in her mid 20s.

A graduate of the Fieldston School within the Bronx, Ms. Stone studied comparative literature at Carleton College in Minnesota and attended Columbia University’s School of General Studies, however by no means graduated.

Her eclectic résumé of jobs included driving a cab and dealing as a morgue technician. She was employed as a waitress at the Manhattan nightclub Max’s Kansas City, the place she met Gerard Hill, an Australian busboy. They married in 1970, however she left the wedding after 13 months, and the couple divorced in 1973.

In addition to her daughter, her survivors embody a son from that marriage, Clement Hill, and a sister, Dr. Elsa Stone.

A self-described radical feminist, Ms. Stone was steered by her yoga teacher to the non secular teachings of Swami Muktananda. In the mid-1970s, after sending her 6-year-old son to dwell along with his father, she launched into a two-year retreat to the swami’s ashram in Ganeshpuri, India. She cleaned laundry, washed flooring and went 9 months with out talking. The swami named her Ganga, for the Ganges River.

When she returned to New York, Ms. Stone resumed her composite profession till the mid-1980s, when she was impressed to begin God’s Love.

She retired because the group’s government director in 1995 and was succeeded by Kathy Spahn. The subsequent yr, Ms. Stone, who taught programs about dying, revealed “Start the Conversation: The Book About Death You Were Hoping to Find.” She lived in Saratoga Springs.

“I’ve always been attracted to working with dying people, since it seems to me that there’s no more important moment in a human life than that one,” Ms. Stone advised The New Yorker. “Everything else can go badly, but if that moment goes well, it seems to make a difference, and I wanted to make a difference in those moments for people.”

She added, “My sense of my own role in life was to share with people what I know about the deathless nature of the human self, but you can’t comfort people who haven’t eaten.”