Remembering Durham's homeless who died this year | News
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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Remembering Durham's homeless who died this year

Posted by on Sun, Dec 21, 2014 at 9:09 AM

Eighteen homeless people died in the past year, the youngest 2 1/2 months, the oldest 68 - LISA SORG
  • Lisa Sorg
  • Eighteen homeless people died in the past year, the youngest 2 1/2 months, the oldest 68

Tunisia Martin had big, brown eyes. Scott Rhoton loved art. Timothy Alred was a fisherman who had planned to just pass through town. He stayed nearly five years. Coriyanna Hayes was not yet three months old.

These are four of the 18 people, homeless or who had recently moved into permanent supportive housing, who died in Durham within the last year. About 20 religious leaders, homeless advocates and friends gathered at the Durham Farmers Market pavilion Saturday evening to remember these people, most who died young, not for the circumstances that led them to the streets, but for their essence and humanity.

"They were good, good friends," said Julia Gamble, a nurse practitioner at Urban Ministries. "I treasured all of my time I spent with them."

Shontina Williams, 37, was murdered in May; her body was found on Rocky Creek Trail in south Durham. Her assailant has not been found.

"God knew every footstep and thought they had," said Susan Dunlap, chaplain at Urban Ministries, who knew Williams. "I give thanks for my friendship with them."

Luke Powery, dean of Duke University Chapel, sang "Amazing Grace" to honor the homeless who had died in 2014 - LISA SORG
  • Lisa Sorg
  • Luke Powery, dean of Duke University Chapel, sang "Amazing Grace" to honor the homeless who had died in 2014

Carolyn Schuldt of Open Table Ministries remembered Rhoton for his ability to see beauty in the every day: "He would say, 'Carolyn, stop the car. Look at that tree. Or look at that cactus blooming. See that yellow flower.'"

Some of the homeless, such as Alred, who died from a chronic illness, had family who could arrange for their burial. Those without families are cremated by the state, and do not have individual gravesites.

Here is the full list, compiled by Durham Congregations and Neighborhoods and Lloyd Schmeidler, project manager with the city's department of Community Development.

McArthur "Big Mac" Allen: born 1960
Timothy Alred: died Nov. 17
Georgia Alston: 1962– Aug. 1
Diane Barrymore Andrews: May 5, 1955-July 7
Jason “Coco” Edwards: born 1981
Roderick Fenner
Ronald Fowler: born 1956
Coriyanna Hayes: Jan. 24, 2014–April 15 
Luther Henderson Sr.
Luther Henderson Jr.
Tunisia Martin
William (Pee Wee) Patterson: died Nov. 24
Connie Redman
Ronald “Scott” Rhoton: born 1957
Dwayne Skenes: 1960–Dec. 28, 2013
Reesa Smith: May 29, 1946–Sept. 26 
Scott Smith: born in the 1950s
Shontina Williams: born 1976
About 20 people gathered Saturday to remember homeless people who died in Durham in the last year. - LISA SORG
  • Lisa Sorg
  • About 20 people gathered Saturday to remember homeless people who died in Durham in the last year.

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