Beloved Olympia homeless man dies

OlympianSeptember 3, 2013 

Some knew him by his street name “Dudeman.”

Some didn’t even know him at all.

But within 14 hours, 78 people donated $2,140 for the “In Memory of Derrick ‘Dudeman’ McDougal” fund that was established on Monday.

The account was created behind Olympia Memes, a Facebook page that pokes fun at life and people in South Sound.

The manager of the site responded to a request for an interview from an Olympian reporter, but declined the interview in order to remain anonymous.

Gary Warnock confirmed that a 29-year-old man was found deceased on Saturday, Aug. 31 in a wooded lot by the old Albertson’s at Pacific Avenue and Carpenter Road in Lacey. His death is a likely suicide. Warnock said his office has been unable to verify the deceased man’s identity, because officials cannot locate his next-of-kin.

But word on the street outpaced official channels and people mourned the loss of the iconic homeless man who was known for pulling a large tarped trailer around Olympia and Lacey with a bicycle.

As with social media, there was little information, a few rumors and quite a bit of speculation shared about McDougal. People wanted to know how he died, when and where it happened.

But the fundraiser was evidence that compassion runs deep, and many of those details don't really matter. By the day’s end, people had offered to donate food for the man's animals, and money for a public memorial service. One person even suggested that someone build a statue in Dudeman’s honor.

Some people submitted tributes about him to The Olympian.

“He was so brilliant with his bike/home,” wrote Julie Dahl of Olympia. “Like an engineer. Incredibly brilliant. I will miss him and hope whoever gets the dogs will walk them where we can all see them.”

“I didn’t know him well, but talked to him a few times and he was a fixture around town,” wrote Erin Palmer of Olympia. “Olympia has a lot of homeless who are a nuisance and have bad attitudes, but Dudeman had a laid-back smile for everyone. He was so kind and friendly that people wanted to give him things without even asking.”

According to the fundraising page, Olympia Memes hopes to raise $4,000 to cover funeral expenses, including a plot, casket and marker or cremation and the spreading of ashes.

For more information, go to www.gofundme.com/45vdlk.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433
lpemberton@theolympian.com

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