François (Frank) Richer was a jokester, protector, brother and son.
A lanky, bearded fixture within the ByWard Market, he was a well-recognized face to shopkeepers, partiers and passersby.
However those that knew him say the snowy road corners he frequented are lonelier now.
Frank died on Dec. 4. He was 51.
Julie Archambault mentioned the 2 met in Ottawa’s shelter system and had been associates for greater than a decade. She remembers crooning karaoke with him whereas they drank their morning espresso.
“He had sense of humour, at all times singing, he cherished individuals round him. He was a pleasant man,” she mentioned. “It is not the identical with out him.”
An obituary for Frank says he is survived by his mom Collette Richer, his sisters Ann and Peggy, and brothers Charles and Marc, together with nieces and nephews.
Social media posts mourning his passing have gathered a whole bunch of feedback.
Talking on behalf of the household, Ann instructed CBC they respect the form phrases individuals have shared about Frank on-line. His family members are deeply touched, and understanding that others cared about him has helped as they grieve.
A press release issued by the Shepherds of Good Hope earlier this month mentioned a “long-time member of the Lowertown neighborhood” had lately handed away. It added that many individuals, each housed and unhoused, have died up to now 12 months.
The charity mentioned it won’t establish anybody it helps with out their permission, however did say the one that died was “cherished by our employees” and lots of within the neighbourhood.
A spokesperson additionally shared a hyperlink to a Fb publish from Jan. 2021 by which Frank shared a few of his story.
“I used to be identified with schizophrenia on the age of 21,” it reads partially. “It is pretty gentle however I can have heavy phases the place it’s fairly disagreeable for individuals round me.”
‘God bless you’
Archambault mentioned she misses every thing about her pal, however particularly his gentle and the way his humour attracted others.
“Extra must be executed. An enormous change,” she mentioned of seeing her associates die on Ottawa’s streets. “Cease the abuse and the homeless neglect. It is time to assist them to get housing.”
She mentioned she desires of beginning a warming centre in Lowertown and calling it Frank’s Place in his honour.
‘It is not the identical with out him,’ pal of Frank Richer says:
Mandy Gosewich lives and works within the Market and received to know Frank when he would hang around on Sussex Avenue close to Chapters.
“We used to name him ‘God Bless You,'” mentioned the proprietor of Beautiful Style + Equipment. He used that phrase to thank those that dropped some change in his outstretched hand.
She described her neighbour as somebody with piercing eyes who she used to tease might be a mannequin, if solely he’d eat a little bit extra.
The 2 grew to become acquainted over time, and after her dad handed away, Gosewich gave Frank a few of his sweaters and a winter coat.
He at all times cherished brilliant colors, she mentioned, including Frank’s dying means dropping “one among our vibrant threads” that makes the Market distinctive.
Like Frank, the Market has had its ups and downs, Gosewich defined.
“He was a part of our thread,” she mentioned. “This needs to be a giant wake-up name for our officers. … That is unacceptable. These individuals are individuals, too.”
Psychological well being points and the “poisoning of the drug provide” have meant unprecedented challenges for individuals experiencing homelessness and people who assist them, in accordance with The Ottawa Mission.
WATCH: ByWard Market neighbour says the dying of Frank Richer must be a ‘wake-up name:’
Extra assist wanted
John Diener, proprietor of Saslove’s Meat Market, grew to become pleasant with Frank after he began hanging out in entrance of the retailer.
A girl working behind the counter this week mentioned she at all times felt secure closing up store late at night time, even when she was alone, as a result of she knew Frank was exterior.
Tall and skinny, Frank may at first appear intimidating to strangers at first, however for individuals who’d met him “he was everyone’s pal,” mentioned Diener.
“He was very pleasant, at all times greeted individuals with ‘God bless’ or ‘Have a pleasant day.'”
Frank was identified for working the eating places and bars, providing patrons a menu of jokes — or “groaners,” as Diener described them — in change for some cash.
Saslove’s and Beautiful are each amassing donations for Shepherds of Good Hope and Internal Metropolis Well being in his identify.
Diener additionally lives downtown and is not any stranger to seeing individuals dwelling on the road. He mentioned over time he is gotten to know a number of regulars earlier than in the future they seemingly disappear.
Frank’s dying has led him to appreciate what number of others doubtless arrived at comparable, tragic ends.
“He is one particular person however he represents the larger image,” mentioned Diener. “There are a lot of Franks on the market.”