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 mates for greater than a decade. She remembers crooning karaoke with him whereas they drank their morning espresso.
“He had a superb sense of humour, all the time singing, he liked individuals round him. He was a pleasant man,” she mentioned. “It isn’t 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 recognize the form phrases individuals have shared about Frank on-line. His family members are deeply touched, and figuring out 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 group” had not too long ago handed away. It added that many individuals, each housed and unhoused, have died prior to now yr.
The charity mentioned it won’t establish anybody it helps with out their permission, however did say the one who died was “liked by our workers” and plenty 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 delicate however I can have heavy levels the place it’s fairly disagreeable for individuals round me.”
‘God bless you’
Archambault mentioned she misses every little thing about her buddy, however particularly his mild and the way his humour attracted others.
“Extra must be finished. A giant change,” she mentioned of seeing her mates 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 isn’t the identical with out him,’ buddy of Frank Richer says:
Mandy Gosewich lives and works within the Market and obtained 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 Gorgeous Trend + 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 somewhat extra.
The 2 grew to become acquainted through the years, and after her dad handed away, Gosewich gave Frank a few of his sweaters and a winter coat.
He all the time liked vivid colors, she mentioned, including Frank’s dying means dropping “one in all 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 those that assist them, based on The Ottawa Mission.
WATCH: ByWard Market neighbour says the dying of Frank Richer needs 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 lady working behind the counter this week mentioned she all the time felt secure 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 everyone’s buddy,” mentioned Diener.
“He was very pleasant, all the time greeted individuals 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 trade for some cash.
Saslove’s and Gorgeous are each gathering donations for Shepherds of Good Hope and Inside Metropolis Well being in his title.
Diener additionally lives downtown and isn’t any stranger to seeing individuals dwelling on the road. He mentioned through the years he is gotten to know just a few regulars earlier than sooner or later 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.”