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‘We live and die like everyone else:’ Orange County to honor homeless lives lost

The “Rock Memorial” setup at a homeless encampment along the Santa Ana River Trail in Anaheim on Wed
A Rock Memorial setup in 2017 honored deceased homeless at an encampment along the Santa Ana River Trail in Anaheim. Homeless Person’s Memorial Day will be held by homelessness advocate Tim Houchen on Dec. 21. The encampment has since been cleared from the riverbed.
(File Photo)

For most of the deceased homeless of Orange County, the only funeral they will ever have is on Dec. 21, when a few dozen people gather together annually on the longest night of the year to commemorate the less fortunate with a modest ceremony.

Homeless Person’s Memorial Day will recognize the more than 200 destitute people who died this year. Tim Houchen, organizer of the event, said the number trumps previous years.

They died in myriad ways — hit by cars, stabbings, drug overdoses, hangings by shoelaces — in the streets of one of the country’s wealthiest counties.

“Most of these people, after they pass away, will never be claimed,” Houchen said.

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The ceremony will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Anaheim Cemetery, 1400 East Sycamore St. Various community activists will speak, including a number of homeless people. Los Angeles Times writer Gustavo Arellano is the featured speaker.

Arellano is a former editor at OC Weekly, a publication Houchen said is widely read by the homeless because it’s free and “everywhere they are.”

Kimberly Sandoval, who’s been homeless for 34 years, said the event allows her to pay respects to the family and friends she’s lost. She plans to speak at the memorial.

“I have lost so many family members out here,” Sandoval said. “I want people to be aware that we are human — we live and die like everyone else.”

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Homeless Person’s Memorial Day, or the Longest Night, is a national event held in more than 175 cities on the winter solstice — the longest and sometimes coldest night of the year — to highlight the suffering of the homeless.

The event is particularly resonant to Houchen because he once lived on the street.

Houchen started the event in 2014 while he was living in a sprawling homeless encampment at the foot of the Santa Ana Civic Center. After years of watching his friends die, Houchen felt the national event could aid with the healing process and shine a light on the suffering.

“It’s our job to bring as much of the community together with houses and without houses,” Houchen said. “It’s an opportunity for the homeless to mourn their friends and loved ones with dignity and respect. But it’s also a time where the public can understand a little bit more what homeless people go through. ‘Why are people homeless? Who are these people?’”

These are the names of homeless who died this year according to Houchen and the Orange County coroner’s office:

  • Wilber Alexander Merino
  • Donald Louis Patrick
  • John Michael Nondorf Jr.
  • Kalab Miles Hendrix
  • John Gerald Ordean Birch
  • Patricia Althea Lee
  • Frank Lavelle Page
  • Emeterio Antonio Arevalo
  • Henry Victor Miranda
  • Armando Villa
  • David Katcher
  • Robert Brian Riley
  • Joshua Allen Marshall
  • Kenneth Alan Mims
  • Juan Alcantar Urciel
  • Richard Santos Nauta
  • Robert James Dunham IV
  • Jan Gerilyn Martinez
  • Jun Soo Park
  • Steven Michael Viall
  • Allan David McCue
  • Brian Richard Laurent
  • Jimmie Earl Smith
  • Henry Wesley Willard
  • Betty Jane Willis
  • Emily Nicole Marshall
  • Brent Victor Lewallen
  • Anthony Cal Holmes
  • Max Norman McDaniel
  • Robert William Flentye
  • David Joseph Intchauspe
  • James Daniel Callahan
  • Daniel Russell Birchard
  • Roberta Tillie Apodaca
  • Alfonso Carranza
  • John Ray Morrow
  • Steve Kian Eftekhar
  • Fabrizio Lopez Gonzales
  • Robert Jon Gilhousen
  • Michael Anthony Laz Protasio
  • Juan Carlos Pineda Vigil
  • Francisco Cornejo-Garcia
  • Karla Sue McHugh
  • John Francis Haggerty
  • Saul Orlando Contreras-Borja
  • Roy Lee Barrows
  • Stephen Allan Davis
  • Trinidad Anguiano Mendoza
  • Thomas Philip Montes II
  • Keith John Houk
  • Steven Rene Walls
  • Jared Wesley Blacketer
  • Renee Yvette Fogg
  • Sobirzhan Mulazimov
  • Hans Joseph Kolker
  • Steven Scott Lytal
  • Barbara W. De Santo
  • Thomas Charles Huff
  • Juan Ortega
  • Ashley Lynn Boulay
  • Anthony Johnson Shpak
  • Tanya Sue Anderson
  • Roseann Frey
  • Vicente Molina Mendez
  • Luom Van Le
  • Gwendolyn Ruth Gipson
  • Patrick Francisco Paola
  • Shawn Micheal Pettus
  • Terrall Magee
  • Jesse Dean Dowell
  • Phunyouphone Kanyavong
  • Michelle Ha
  • Nikky Ha Kanyavong
  • Mone Tao Kanyavong
  • Robert Ira Dorn
  • Roy Lee Scott West
  • Larry Dean Eggers
  • Joseph Daly
  • Dan Larell Martines
  • Jesus Mauro Cruz-Ramirez
  • Gabriel Martin Rios
  • Pedro Alberto Armendarez
  • Margaret Ann Boulet
  • John Henry Uribe
  • Juan Molina
  • Patrick Kevin West
  • Antonio Lopez Salinas
  • Harvey William Marks
  • Eduardo Galviz Castaneda
  • Rodney John Daniels Jr.
  • Thomas Edward Stewart Jr.
  • Jeff Michael Dougherty
  • Lionel Peter Duncan
  • John Joseph Dolan
  • Jennifer Marie Lewis
  • Petrica Muntean
  • Alicia Fatima Noah
  • Robert Scott Estle
  • Ulises Oble Munoz
  • Gregory Paul Cobb
  • Jack Thomas Richards
  • Sonia Veronica Martinez
  • Allen Charles Hammel
  • Johnny Negrete
  • Lauryn Ashley Guthrie
  • Marnel Jenkins Sr.
  • Jeffrey A. Jeter
  • Jeffrey Paul Hakes
  • Sammy Scott Sanders
  • Kaung Kyaw Swar
  • Hanselman
  • Robert Edward Long
  • Enrique Briseno
  • Patrick Anthony Elia
  • Yuri Angelica Gurrola
  • Luis David Soto-Velez
  • Timothy Taylor
  • Maren Elaine Eriksen
  • Heather Elizabeth Curtis
  • Martin Mendoza Lopez
  • Jeffrey Leo Hoagland
  • John Wyatt Renfroe
  • William Harvey Pritchett
  • Ian Elliot Tompko
  • Duane Kenneth Erickson
  • Ricky Wayne Williams
  • Jeremy Robert Hohensee
  • John David Borecki
  • Kirt Louis Storm
  • Javier TORRES Avila
  • Donadony Blake Taylor
  • Tyler Anthony Mellone
  • Noah James Larson
  • Alejandro Anchondo
  • Daniel Xavier Lopez
  • Matthew Leigh Lamson
  • Harlan Macyowsky Perez
  • Wesley Alan Powell
  • Terry Lee Zielomski
  • Javier Guadalupe Soriano
  • Ngoc Dang Nguyen
  • Mark Steele
  • Randy Jimenez
  • Daniel Anthony Alvarado
  • Ralph Larry Rodriguez Jr.
  • Rudy Anthony Courrielche
  • Daniel Robert Wingard
  • Angel Tony Garcia
  • Jose Luis Ortiz
  • Shauna Lynn Holmsen
  • Melissa Eunice Garrido
  • Chinh Nguyen
  • Douglas Eugene Gunter
  • Dana Susanne Heppner
  • Christine Heller
  • Gerard Paul Gosselin
  • Cirenio Ramirez Velasco
  • Dale Raymond Jacobs
  • Tracy Lee Schaad
  • Curtis Michael Butler
  • William Francis Dennehy
  • Richard Michael Burke
  • Saul Jose Velasquez
  • Gabriel Norbeto Ocampo
  • Mottahereh Sadeghi
  • Ronald George Truett
  • Eyal Avidror
  • Patrice Damiani Peters
  • Damion John Thornburgh
  • Tracy Frank Hansen
  • Brianna Demeo
  • Matthew Henry Macmillan
  • Norberto Martin Rios
  • Christine Renee Cunningham
  • Roberto Brito Segura
  • David Robert Doan
  • Danny Leroy Miller
  • Jesus J. Tovar
  • Jose Eduardo Ruelas
  • Vic Steve Disanzo
  • Chau Van Nguyen
  • Rita Ann Wilde
  • Harmony Rose McKinney
  • Anthony Joel Talbert
  • Oscar Manuel Martinez
  • William Bryan Camery
  • Sergio Diego Velasco
  • Sarine Marie Accordino
  • Freddie Lee Brown Jr.
  • Bradford Arthur Sturtevant
  • Jose Hernandez Huerta
  • James Leonard Fox
  • Paul Bernazzani
  • Marcella Sheree Ramos
  • Bryan Venegas Cruz
  • David Michael Daeberick
  • Timothy Parrish
  • Roberto White
  • Jonathan McKay Crane
  • Paul Warren Nelson
  • Jerrold Snyder
  • Virginia Frances Rangel
  • Anna Hunt
  • Robert Richard Wanamaker Jr.
  • John Edward Billings
  • Brian Thomas Gregory Jr.
  • Christopher Neil Evans
  • Alfred Noel Catanese
  • Legacy Chamberlain
  • Archie Tobe
  • Cristobal Morales
  • Manuel Ernesto Gomez
  • Rosa Heredia
  • Cody Joseph Powell
  • Robert David Blanchard
  • Dilip Parshottam Patel
  • David Alexander Emanuel Jouni
  • John David Ehman
  • Rance Gregory Roberts
  • Loreen Ann Ritze Toupe
  • Laura Irene Sager
  • Stacey Romero
  • Lisa Olivarez Martinez
  • ChrisEisinger
  • Raymond William Jaso
  • Emanuel (Manny) Sanchez

    benjamin.brazil@latimes.com

    Twitter:@benbrazilpilot


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