François (Frank) Richer was a jokester, protector, brother and son.
A lanky, bearded fixture within the ByWard Market, he was a well-known 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 buddies for greater than a decade. She remembers crooning karaoke with him whereas they drank their morning espresso.
“He had a very good sense of humour, all the time singing, he beloved folks 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 lot of feedback.
Talking on behalf of the household, Ann advised CBC they admire the sort phrases folks have shared about Frank on-line. His family members are deeply touched, and realizing 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 not too long ago handed away. It added that many individuals, each housed and unhoused, have died previously 12 months.
The charity mentioned it won’t determine anybody it helps with out their permission, however did say the one who died was “beloved by our workers” and lots of within the neighbourhood.
A spokesperson additionally shared a hyperlink to a Fb submit 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 delicate however I can have heavy phases the place it’s fairly disagreeable for folks round me.”
‘God bless you’
Archambault mentioned she misses every part about her pal, however particularly his gentle and the way his humour attracted others.
“Extra must be performed. A giant change,” she mentioned of seeing her buddies 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 Vogue + 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 may very well be a mannequin, if solely he’d eat somewhat 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 all the time beloved vivid colors, she mentioned, including Frank’s demise 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 persons are folks, too.”
Psychological well being points and the “poisoning of the drug provide” have meant unprecedented challenges for folks experiencing homelessness and those that assist them, in response to The Ottawa Mission.
WATCH: ByWard Market neighbour says the demise of Frank Richer ought to 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 all the time felt protected closing up store late at evening, even when she was alone, as a result of she knew Frank was outdoors.
Tall and skinny, Frank may at first appear intimidating to strangers at first, however for individuals who’d met him “he was all people’s pal,” mentioned Diener.
“He was very pleasant, all the time greeted folks with ‘God bless’ or ‘Have a pleasant day.'”
Frank was recognized 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 gathering 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 folks residing on the road. He mentioned over time he is gotten to know a number of regulars earlier than someday they seemingly disappear.
Frank’s demise has led him to comprehend what number of others probably arrived at related, tragic ends.
“He is one particular person however he represents the larger image,” mentioned Diener. “There are a lot of Franks on the market.”