A homeless man by the name of Donald passed away on Wednesday, October 16, after suffering a brain aneurysm that led to a stroke.

In cities and towns across the country, there are many homeless people who wander the streets. Some have fallen on hard times financially and run out of options. Some have mental disorders that make it difficult for them to function “normally” within the strictures of society. Most are passed by without a second glance, receiving no more attention than a mailbox or fire hydrant – something to be walked around while looking the other way.

Donald, however, proved that “homeless” is not the same as “hapless.” Indeed, the outpouring of love from Gold Canyon residents since learning of his illness has shown that many within the community consider themselves to be the fortunate ones for having known him.

No one is sure when Donald first showed up on the streets of Gold Canyon, but the consensus seems to be that it was in the early 2000s. A tree-shaded bench on Kings Ranch Road was his usual spot, and members of the community enjoyed his congenial smile and wave as they passed by. Many would stop to talk or give him a hug – maybe share some food, water or cigarettes. That bench is now covered with handwritten notes, balloons and other tributes, and there is talk of installing a plaque on “Donald’s” bench.

According to one social media post, Donald spent his nights in the courtyard at Superstition Foothills Baptist Church. “Even though offered, he rarely slept inside.”

Another post describes him, “He wasn’t the guy on the corner, looking for handouts. He got from-the-heart help for which he never begged… people reached out to help feed him, cool him and give him a place to sit or lay.”

“Rest easy our friend,” another post summarized. “I believe heaven did not gain an angel; I believe an angel was simply called home. His work here is done... Look at how this community has come together for the common good of humanity. Let’s not forget that. Share a smile and reach out to help our neighbors. Take a walk and share some laughter. Be thankful and humble. It was Donald’s way.”

Gold Canyon United Methodist Church has offered to pay for Donald’s cremation and will be hosting a memorial for the community to attend. Service date and time will be posted on the church website: goldcanyonumc.org. Donations are being accepted at the church office, 6640 S. Kings Ranch Road Gold Canyon, AZ 85118. Please indicate “Donald’s service” on the envelope or check. For more information: 480-982-3776.

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