Last Friday was a rainy, cold, and miserable night, yet around 25 people huddled together under a pergola in Collyer Park.  Some were regular attendees at Common Cathedral, some were hungry, some were serving dinner, and some were there for a memorial service for Antonio “Tony” Rodriguez.

I had seen Tony a few times when I volunteered with the shelter, but I didn’t know Tony or the impact he made on the community he left behind.

Tony and his father moved to Colorado from New York about 30 years ago.  According to his friends, Tony was a Navy Seal and served in the Viet Nam War.  Tony had a son and a daughter, and a brother and his family, who would be honoring Tony’s life later this month in Ft Logan.  Tony was described as being stubborn, but he was a fierce friend who offered help and assistance when he could.

Alcohol became a demon for Tony after the war – one that would never let go.  Tony was found on a bench – his bench – in Roosevelt Park and he could not be revived.

Tony’s friend “Tom” now honors his friend by wearing Tony’s winter coat – a greatly coveted item in this community, and a special gift with the extra warmth it brings Tom. “Jay” sat next to Tom and cried often as he remembered his friend. A HOPE volunteer sent a bouquet of flowers that provided the only color amidst dark coats and gray skies.

We shared in a time of prayer and I asked for comfort for the friends and family of Artie Dillon.  Artie loved to be part of Common Cathedral and enjoyed talking with the attendees; her warm smile was a magnet for conversation.

It was a special night in the park, despite the weather, and it was an honor to serve dinner and share memories of loved ones.  Whatever brought each one of us to the park in the cold and the rain on Friday night, was a blessing, indeed.

~In loving memory of Tony and Artie~ Catherine Murphy

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