Ruth's Story: The Cemetery Angel, Ruth Coker Burks
Ruth Coker Burks, also known as the Cemetery Angel, is a former caregiver of AIDS crisis victims and an AIDS awareness advocate based in Arkansas. During the AIDS epidemic in the late 1980s, she used her salary as a real estate agent to care for AIDS patients whose families and communities had abandoned them. Due to the stigma surrounding the disease at the time, she was often the patients' only caregiver until they eventually died. She is additionally recognized for burying a number of AIDS victims in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
On June 20, 2016, Broadway Sings for Pride premiered its 6th anniversary benefit concert "Ovation" in New York City, at Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. This milestone event was filled with singing (from pop to Broadway), stories, special celebrity guests, and more. Broadway Sings for Pride is a multiple award-winning, non-for-profit organization that brings together Broadway talent, activists, and celebrities, to educate the public, raise awareness of the needs of LGBTQ+ youth, and support these young people, so that they may reach their full potential.
In 2016, for the first time ever, Broadway Sings for Pride wanted to honor someone special. They flew AIDS/LGBTQ+ activist Burks for their 6th annual pride event in New York City. Burks had no idea that during the event her story would be told, along with a special heartfelt performance dedicated to her.
With permission from David Koon of "Arkansas Times", Burks' story was retold from Koon's article published on January 8, 2015, via a performance by Eden Espinosa (Broadway's "Wicked" and "Rent"), Brock Ciarlelli (ABC's "The Middle"), Daniel Quadrino (Broadway's "Newsies" and "Wicked"), Cody Scott Lancaster (Broadway's "Rock of Ages"), and Tym Moss ("Girl, a Lopsided Tree Won't Ruin Christmas").
Last Updated: July 26, 2022