Residents of Vancouver’s West End are mourning the death of a local homeless man known and loved by many in the community.
On Saturday, a steady stream of people arrived to add flowers, notes and other mementos to a growing memorial at the intersection of Davie and Bute streets for the man known simply as Boomer.
“He was a staple here on Davie and the west end. He was just a really sweet guy. I met him when I moved here like 10 years ago,” emotional West End resident Tara Farrell told Global News.
“My mom met him once … and she would send him Christmas cards after just meeting him one time. He was just a gentle giant.”
Judy Graves, a longtime advocate for Vancouver’s homeless, said she knew Boomer for more than 30 years, nearly all of which he’d spent sleeping on the city’s streets.
She said he made an effort to remember the name of everyone he spoke to, and that he was known for making people feel safer.
One mourner Global News spoke with said Boomer was remembered for helping keep people in the area safe from homophobic attacks.
“He was big, he was fun-loving, he was warm and friendly,” Graves said.
“He had all kinds of problems of his own, he had pretty deep trauma, he had a mental illness, he was coping with more than most people ever coped with.”
Boomer was believed to be in his 70s when he died. Graves said he has a son, who visited the memorial and who she was hoping to contact to help arrange a funeral.
Word of the West End fixture’s passing has spread rapidly through word of mouth and social media. Efforts were also underway Saturday to try and arrange a vigil for him.