Some knew him by his street name, “Dudeman.”
Some didn’t even know him at all.
But in about 18 hours, 105 people donated $2,726 for the “In Memory of Derrick ‘Dudeman’ McDougal” fund.
The account was created behind Olympia Memes, a Facebook page that pokes fun at life and people in the South Sound.
The manager of the site responded to a request from an Olympian reporter, but declined comment in order to remain anonymous.
Gary Warnock confirmed that a 29-year-old man was found deceased Saturday in a wooded lot by the old Albertson’s at Pacific Avenue and Carpenter Road in Lacey. His death likely is a suicide. Warnock said his office has been unable to verify the deceased man’s identity, because officials cannot locate his next-of-kin.
Still, word on the street outpaced official channels and people mourned the loss of the iconic homeless man who was known for pulling a large tarp-covered trailer around Olympia and Lacey using 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.
And 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.”
“He wasn’t just a homeless man, he was an inspiration and a breath of good humanity” wrote Travis Summers.
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. Plans are underway for some type of vigil or public memorial.
For more information, go to gofundme.com/45vdlk.Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 firstname.lastname@example.org