Richie was a West Side regular who I was enjoying getting to know. He was a kind, smart, funny, insightful person and he had a twinkle in his eye. He was tragically killed Sunday night in a hit-and-run. The neighborhood truly won't be the same without him.
This was the first day I met Richie, about two months ago. He introduced himself as West Side Richie.
Stopping traffic at his intersection, W Ferry & Grant. I saw many instances of various people in the neighborhood helping keep him safe when he was not himself. "Come on, Richie, let's get you out of the street." People brought him water on hot days and made sure he was ok.
Outside the bank on Grant St., one of his hang-outs.
It's true that Richie made some mistakes and bad choices in his life, but it is also true that he had bad choices to choose from. He had it rough and he really struggled. He was a good, good person and had a kind heart.
When Richie saw me coming with my camera on Saturday, he painstakingly cleaned up his spot and set up this scene. It took a long time because of his broken foot. He wanted the photo to tell a story.
We talked for a long time. He told me about his rough childhood & early years. I asked him about his behavior in the street, making us worry for his safety. "I know, I know..." he said. "I get so saucy!" He was grateful for the care of "his boys" who kept him safe when he needed help.
He liked taking pictures, and was really proud of the photos I brought him. He said he gave one to his sister. He talked with love about his family. When I asked him if his father would help him if he asked, he said "he's helping me right now." This was our last conversation.
I attended a candlelight vigil for Richie at the corner where he died. I met his lovely family and got to hear their memories and stories, join them in laughter about Richie's antics, pray with them, and share with them the warmth which with he talked about them on Saturday.
One of Richie's sisters. "Let's have a last toast to Richie, in the spot where he took his last breath."
Some of Richie's beloved family. Two of his sisters and his father.
Many came to pay their respects
Richie was loved.
I visited the next night, and met Richie's "boys."
They're keeping the candles lit.
RIP Richie. We're going to miss you.