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A greeter’s life celebrated

A memorial service was held Saturday at the Neighborhood Congregational Church for No. 1 Unnamed Archer, the self-appointed Laguna Greeter, who died in December.

More than 30 people attended the services to show they cared about a man who wasn’t always easy to care for, a testament as much about them as him and his litany of “you’re perfect” to pedestrians who passed him at South Coast Highway and Forest Avenue.

“Sometimes he frustrated me,” Sande St. John said. “I got tired of ‘you’re perfect’ when I wanted to talk about something else. But I always knew he wanted to bring joy and love to everyone.”

St. John and Rita Moreau organized the services for Archer, who died Dec. 17 at 78.

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“No. 1 did not necessarily want his life celebrated in a church and probably not with the usual trappings, so this will be as untraditional as possible,” said the Rev. B.J. Beu.

Beu began the service by playing a tribal flute, accompanied by Donna Le Clair’s soft drumming that conjured up the sound of the eternal ocean tide.

“Those of you who knew No. 1 Archer knew he was a man acquainted with love and suffering — the two great paths of transformation,” Beu said.

“I think suffering made him reach out to say, ‘you’re perfect.’ How many of you [in the church] heard him say that?”

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About one-third raised their hands.

“When No. 1 looked at you, he saw someone who was perfect,” Beu said. “We need more people like him.

“We have learned to see flaws. If our hair is not perfect, we can’t go out in public. We aren’t good enough, not rich enough, not something enough,” Beu said.

Beu read a poem by Archer that began, “I know no one who can be me better than me.”

No. 1 Unnamed Archer was the first of twins born June 17, 1931, whose parents didn’t name the boys before they took their babies home. The younger son was named No. 2 Unnamed Archer.

Later in life he used the first name of Jerry, married and had six children — Kenneth, Richard, Steve, April, Ray and Nathan.

Ray and his wife, Belinda, their two children Austin and Alexa, his sister and their mother, Willa Denk, No. 1’s divorced wife, attended the service.

“Actually, this is about No. 1 and Leon because they were one,” Ray Archer said.

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Leon Barnard was remembered as an artist who painted on the corner where Archer waved to passing motorists and preached his “perfect” message starting in the 1980s.

Barnard died before his partner, both of them cared for toward the end by Moreau, their longtime roommate.

Artist and musician Doug Miller recalled resisting No. 1’s approach and claim to be the Laguna Greeter.

“Who does he think he is?” Miller thought. “But he said he was needed and hey, Eiler Larsen was resisted in his day.”

The ceremony concluded with Miller’s violin rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

Refreshments were served in the church courtyard.



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