She only had one child, but Nita Pippins was a mother figure to many in the city who were living with AIDS.

She fell into that role after moving to New York to care for her dying son in 1987, but it lasted more than 30 years, right up until she could no longer get around on her own.  

"Her work as supporting people with AIDS and supporting families with AIDS was the most important thing she did in her life," said Irwin Kroot, a close friend.

Kroot is also one of her unofficially adopted children. He said Pippins died at a Manhattan nursing after contracting the coronavirus. She moved there in January after she fell and broke her hip.

Pippins was in the middle of rehab when she became ill and died on Mother's Day. The woman who had held the hands of many during the AIDS epidemic died alone.

"She had been there in the nursing home for several months, so they knew her, but none of us who loved her, of course, were able to be with her. The last time I was able to FaceTime with her was earlier that week," Kroot said.

Pippins was a 60-year-old retired nurse when she left Florida to be with her son Nick, a 33-year-old actor. He died from AIDS three years later, but after becoming close with some of his friends, she decided to stay.

Pippins became an activist who helped to create Miracle House, a charity that provided free or low-cost housing for out-of-town families of AIDS patients. Her work made her an NY1 New Yorker of the Week.

In the 2010 interview, Pippins said, "I knew that for people to come up here and stay any length of time, it would be very expensive, and if they had a place to stay that didn't cost a lot, they could come and stay longer to see their sons."

She would also reach out to families to try to get them to see their loved ones before they died. She also started a breakfast program where she could sit and speak with them.

"I really wanted to get the mothers together and let them know that my son died of AIDS and it's very painful, and at that time, you were shunned," said Pippins.

Pippins was 93 when she died.

"She was a multifaceted human being who did wonderful things with her life," Kroot said.

She leaves behind a stepdaughter and three step-grandchildren, in addition to all of her unofficial sons.