August 29, 2014

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Group honors those society forgot

LORAIN – Two of them went by the names Broadway Mary and Broadway Nancy.

One was known only as “John” to his dearest friends.

They were just three of the dozen or so names of homeless people whose deaths came while they were living on the streets that were read aloud Wednesday during an annual homelessness vigil.

The service, held at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lorain, honors those who have fallen victim to homelessness in the city. The event was sponsored by the Lorain County Homeless Task Force.

Most of the 30 people who attended the memorial service were homeless themselves, and they nodded their heads or wiped their eyes as they remembered the people whose names echoed off the cavernous church interior.

One of those names was Robert Boggs, whose wife, Sylvia Boggs, sat in a wooden pew near the back during the service.
Boggs, who said she was no longer homeless, described her late husband as a kind and gentle man.

“It`s nice to hear those names again,” she said. “I knew a lot of those people. They were all good people.”

Broadway Mary, whose real name was Helen Thomas and Broadway Nancy, also known as Nancy Price, were two women who made homes along the city`s main thoroughfare and were quite well-known among those at the event.

George Smith, a homeless man who wore tattered sweats and a long, gray beard to the service, said both women were always friendly to him.

“This means a lot to me that they would have this service,” he said.

Afterward, the group gathered for chicken soup in the basement of the church. The Rev. Jimmy Madsen said the service was intended to show the city`s indigent that they have not been forgotten.

“It helps them know someone else cares,” he said.

Becky Sigal, who works with the Task Force, said her agency has been recording names of those who died on the streets for several years.

“Events like this ensures that these people will always be remembered,” she said.

Contact Adam Wright at 653-6257 or awright@chroniclet.com.