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Saying ‘goodbye’ to Roark

Tue, Dec 11, 2012

The late Roark Moody

After hearing the news of Roark Moody’s passing, many of his friends sent in remarks about their relationship with him, kind words to tell their beloved friend “goodbye.” StreetWise would like to share some of those tributes.

Bruce Crane
Former StreetWise Executive Director

Roark’s Legacy to Me

Over many years, two things that will last with me for a long time mark my experiences with Roark. First, he was physically a big man – one who could have been imposing or even threatening. Instead he was warm, thoughtful, sensitive, and appreciative. His nature was comfortable in his big frame, one that earned respect rather than commanded it. Roark was respectful of others with a civility that seems increasingly lost these days. Thus, it was always a joy to see him and work with him.

But the exceptional part of our friendship came as a result of his expressing appreciation. I was taught that appreciation, like apology, needs to be sincere and specific. Roark knew this and it was part of his character. Roark had a seemingly unintentional ability to re-energize my motivation, by his acts of expressing appreciation. As a long time volunteer and board member at StreetWise, people ask me why I do it, what motivates me. Here is my answer:

About four years ago I started a hot lunch program at StreetWise. After about six months Roark stopped me and gave me an uncharacteristic big hug. He told me StreetWise had given him the opportunity to stabilize his life through income and secure housing. He had a small apartment for years and he always paid for it at the expensive daily rate rather than monthly, because he could never save enough money to pay for a whole month in advance. For the last three months he had been eating his hearty meal of the day at StreetWise and saving the money he would have spent. He saved it until he was able to pay for his apartment for a whole month. Now, the extra $150 that he was paying for his place to stay is going into a savings account at a bank, something he hadn’t had in 20 years. Then he said, “every meal I eat at StreetWise is an opportunity for me to save money and use it to better myself. In one seemingly small conversation, Roark made me feel good about my volunteer work and myself; that act of appreciation continues to motivate me, and makes me feel fortunate that I am volunteering at the right place.

Greg Williams
Pastor from Merrillville, IN

I would like to extend my condolence to Mr. Roarke Moody’s family as well as the StreetWise family in this time of loss. I was one of his regular customers.
We talked often about life in general. He was a wonderful person to know and was also a talented poet. I will certainly miss him!

Brad Alterson
Customer and friend of Roark’s

Moody was…

I first started to notice Moody when I was a kid about 14, or 15 years old exploring Chicago for the first time with friends from the suburbs. Moody was intimidating at first mainly due to his size and stature, but I always noticed him.

It wasn’t until 10 years later that I started working downtown and started talking with him everyday that I realized what a special person he was.

Moody was a War Veteran, a father, a cat lover, a poet and a genuinely nice guy. Moody worked hard everyday to provide for himself and his cat while at the same time writing his poetry and learning new things on the computer.

He loved his job, and the people he had met, and built relationships with for over 10 years He was a Bulls fan, a Bears fan, and a Chicago fan in general.

Moody lived a full long life that took him all over the world, and tested him daily. He didn’t have the easiest life, but he made the best of it by working hard, staying positive, and doing what he loved when writing his poetry.

A lot of people will miss Moody, and his warm greetings at Millennium Station, but if you were lucky enough to know him like I did you’ll always hear his cool laid back “StreeetWise” pitch when you pass by.

Annie M. Foor
Customer and friend of Roark’s

I have been waiting for you. I figured I would see you mid October. I would search for your face every day after work. It occurred to me that maybe you were only working half days. Maybe that is why toward the end of October I still hadn’t seen your face. But I left mid day a few times. I searched for you and I could still not find you. I started to ask around. One woman told me she thought you had changed locations and was farther down Randolph. I knew she was wrong. You wouldn’t do that. You have too many friends who would look for you. Who are looking for you now. I prayed and prayed for you. For your safe and fast recovery.

The other day I saw a man selling Street Wise in your location. I said to him (with some attitude) “Hey! Where is Moody?” He told me that you had just had the surgery. I thought you had it over a month ago and would be recovered. But I guess things got pushed back. I prayed some more.

Last night I was standing in my usual spot waiting for the train. And I heard a StreetWise man say “we lost one.” Tears sprang from my eyes and it felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. I asked him what he was talking about even though I already knew that he meant we lost you.

I have been missing you Moody. I will miss you more. Thank you for teaching me you can find a friend anywhere you open your heart and look. Thank you for the long talks. Thank you for listening to me rant. Thank you for protecting me and making me feel safe in this crazy city. Thank you for sharing your life with me. Thank you for being my friend. You will not be forgotten. You will always be in my heart.

Love you always, Annie

John Shonkwiler
Customer and friend of Roark’s

You inspired me with your sturdy smile and tireless spirit. You were a brave man, and I will miss you. The corner of Michigan and Randolph will never be the same.

Sham Hall
Friend of Roark’s

My condolences goes out to the family and friends of Moody. To often our true warriors go unnoticed. And we fell to let them know how they touch our lives and the lives of many others. What separates the warriors from so many others is that although we are dealt a rough deck, we play that hand without complaint, make the best out of the situation, and keep it moving. Moody, you were one of our warriors. Through it all you kept a smile on your face and transferred that positive energy to many others. I will miss seeing you at the end of my day and so will countless others. You are in a better place now. We will miss you.

Your friend, Sham

Mary Burr
Customer and friend of Roark’s

I am not very good with words but passing by Mr. Moody every evening to catch my train home just seemed right, since he had been there ever since I started coming downtown eight years ago. Now, it is just a “spot.” I will miss his smile and his “Have a Good Evening” or “Have a Good Weekend.”

Eli Washington
Customer and friend of Roark’s

My StreetWise vendor, Moody, I will truly miss this man of intelligence, character and compassion. May God bless your family.

Becky Hinton
Customer and friend of Roark’s

So saddened to hear of this gentle poet’s passing. I often bought the magazine just to read his poems. How I will miss the baritone grumble Strrrreetwiiise… as I rushed down the stairs to the Randolph Street Metra Station every evening.

Pete Walker
Customer and friend of Roark’s

[Moody] was a fixture at Millennium Station for years and a true gentleman. I hadn’t seen him for some time and was concerned that he might be ill but I was shocked to hear that he is gone… he will be missed by all the regulars! RIP, brother!

Caesar Carrion
Customer and friend of Roark’s

My thoughts, prayers and my deepest condolences go out to [Roark’s] family and his StreetWise family. Not a day went by that we did not say hello to each other and exchange pleasant conversation. Roark will be missed by all.

Nola Jarman
Customer and friend of Roark’s

I looked forward to Mr. Moody’s “have a good night” as I headed down into the train station everyday. Mr. Moody was a such a kind soul. I know there is a special place in heaven for him.

Customer and friend of Roark’s

I was saddened to hear that Mr. Moody had passed away. For a while I had been wondering where he had been and missed hearing his infamous “StreeeeeeeetWise” when I walked to the train. For four years, he and I talked Chicago sports, poetry, our history, and, our favorite subject, President Obama. My prayers are with his family as well StreetWise family. He was a GREAT man.

Customer and friend of Roark’s

My deepest condolences to Mr. Moody’s family and his StreetWise family, he will truly be missed. Not everyone can say that they made a difference in this world with caring words to strangers daily. Mr. Moody’s presence will truly be missed, every time I pass that spot I will hear “have a good night” in my head and remember the King that stated such kind, and heart felt words to little ol’ me. Life is short and you never know when your day will come. We should be kind to all and recognize how precious life can be. We all learn from this and we should make a difference daily like Mr. Moody did!

Linda Carretero
StreetWise Vendor and friend of Roark’s

I was shocked when I found out Moody passed away. We sold magazines across the street from one another but we had different hours. He was a big teddy bear. When we talked at StreetWise I recall his belly laugh. It is like I can still hear that laugh. He was “the StreetWise poet.” I loved his writings. Some poems were happy and some were sad but they were all beautiful. The Streetwise community has lost a brilliant poet, a hard working vendor. But I will miss our friendship, warm conversation and most of all that contagious belly laugh.


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