God bless you and all of your loved ones, Roger

The following is published in the July 25 edition of Street Roots. Please leave any stories you would like to share and goodbye’s below. We will be publishing comments in the next edition of the newspaper on August 8.

Street Roots is working with family and friends and will be announcing the time and date of a memorial service in the coming days. Please check back. (Many thanks to customers and Trader Joe’s for making a memorial on site.)

Remembering Roger

Roger Gates captured the hearts and minds of Portland’s Northwest neighborhood where he sold the paper for seven years. In the two days leading up to Street Roots finding out about his death, nearly a dozen customers called the office asking where Roger was. He was loved.

According to the medical examiner and Roger’s family, he died peacefully of natural causes watching television. We would like to think that Roger passed watching a 6-4-3 double play, or possibly a two-out single that drove in a runner, keeping the inning alive. He had turned 60 years old in early July.

Roger was a true believer. He believed in people – from his fellow vendors to his customers to the staff at Trader Joe’s at NW 21st and Glisan. He rarely had a bad thing to say, but when he did, people listened. He was rough around the edges, but a gentle and well-articulated man. He was a natural leader.

More than anything Roger believed in the idea that all people were good, and that a higher power would forgive us all – regardless of whatever mess we might find ourselves in.

He wrote beautiful poetry, he attended vendor meetings encouraging people to take the roles and responsibilities of being a vendor seriously. “We had a message to deliver,” he would say. “We are the working poor. We should be proud of ourselves. Proud of Street Roots, and proud of the work we do.”

In many ways he had become the face of Street Roots. From helping create the vendor orientation video to speaking with students and journalists, Roger was always willing to communicate with individuals the mission of Street Roots. Like many of us – he lived and breathed the newspaper. It was his life for many years.

Of course, there’s more to Roger’s life than Street Roots. From the staff at the Joyce Hotel where he paid for a room night in and night out to his family and friends – Roger was one of a kind.

He was an avid baseball fan. Roger had studied the game. We often discussed the idea that baseball more than any other game mirrored life. It was a game of patience and persistency. Sometimes nothing would happen until late in the game, other times the game peeked early and never rose to that level of intensity again. One week you might be on a roll, unstoppable. The next week you might find yourself in a slump, unable to put one foot in front of the other. Trying to find that space in your mind and body that would allow you to deliver the best we all have.

Roger always gave his best. And he taught everyone around him to give there best. He was a big brother, a mentor, a friend and an anchor in the community.

Roger will always remain in the hearts and minds of the people that lived and worked in Northwest Portland in the early part of the 21st century. He will be remembered. He will be missed. “God bless you and all of your loved ones.”

– Director, Israel Bayer

Roger one of my favorite colleagues and a spiritual man, friendly and encouraging. I always looked forward to seeing him. Everywhere I go people tell me they buy the paper from Roger Gates at Trader Joe’s with a smile on their face. He was a great friend. He was like my big brother. He always told me that anytime I needed something, he would help me. I have a special prayer for him in my heart.

– Vendor, Vicki Sittinghawk

No matter what circumstances had dealt him that day, Roger new the power of a big smile and a warm greeting – and he was generous with both – every morning, without fail. He enjoyed people, and I think that’s why he enjoyed vending the paper so much. His customers were his friends, and he loved to share his poetry with them. I still have an old brown paper bag with six of his poems written on it.

– Managing Editor, Joanne Zuhl

Never fail, seven days a week, you could find Roger at the Street Roots office just before 8am. Each morning he left with 25, 30, or 40 papers; those were the increments he purchased, never more, never less. Fourth and Davis is where you would find him next, waiting for the 17-Montgomery Park bus to take him to Trader Joe’s- his one and only vending location. He will be missed by all his customers, co-workers, and neighbors. I will miss him.

– Resource Specialist/Office Manager, Eddy Barbosa

Roger Gates was a model vendor. He worked hard at it and it showed. We at Street Roots were blessed to have him with us. He was a true professional. With a quick smile that you knew he meant. We will truly miss him.

– Vendor Coordinator, Art Garcia

Photo by Miyuki Sese

11 responses to “God bless you and all of your loved ones, Roger

  1. RIP, Roger. Going in and out of Trader Joe’s will never be quite the same without your hello and have and have a nice afternoon.

  2. Roger lived to see the Red Sox win the World Series, twice! Yeah!

  3. kathy mcferrin

    I just heard today that my friend Roger had died..I am so sad to hear this..but heartened somewhat that he died watching tv in his room..I hope he was watching a ball game! Roger was one of the very first people I met when I arrived here 5 years ago..I was new to city living and Roger was a terrific ambassador for Portland as well as for the homeless community..his ALWAYS friendly and upbeat attitude was a wonderful welcome to me each morning as I adjusted to life in the city.It turned out that Roger and I shared a birthday (well sort of..mine was the 9th of July and his was the 10th) and we were the same age.so we always celebrated together.. I still have the card he sent me sitting on my front hall table…it was just a couple of weeks ago that he and I were laughing about our getting so frigging old!!It is hard to believe that smiling face will no longer be greeting us all.. Please let me know ,if you can, when the memorial service will be..I do not want to miss it. I also wanted to say thank you to Israel for writing such a wonderful tribute to this kind man in Street Roots

  4. As I went to buy a few things at Trader Joe’s this evening, I felt sadness when I saw the sign announcing the passing of Roger.

    This gentleman would always tell me to have a nice day every single time I finished my shopping, and I would wish him the same, usually using the title Sir.

    Shopping at Trader Joe’s won’t be the same without seeing his gentle facial expression. I hope that he knows that I cared and I will continue to care about each of us.

    Dear Sir:
    Rest In Peace

  5. Shawn Mosley

    It is now evident to me that the Lord placed my brother in law Roger Gates at Trader Joe’s for a special purpose. This purpose was to encourage and uplift those that he met each day while selling Street Roots. You would think that it would be the other way around, but God chose Roger to be an example of how to use the circumstances that life throws at you and use them in a great and wonderful way. He will be missed by his family and by all those he came into contact with each day. God blessed Roger in a very special way. We all can all take a lesson from his life.

  6. Pingback: Remembering Roger Gates « Mental Health Association of Portland

  7. What an awesome God we have! I now know why Uncle Roger loved selling Street Roots. God used him for a purpose and sometimes we (although Uncle Roger knew) don’t find out what that purpose was until somone is gone. God works in mysterious ways. I have learned so much in just a short time. What an example Uncle Roger was to me. I love you Uncle Roger.

  8. Sharon Hennessey

    Roger was one of the kindest out there.
    He knew me through my children as we visited Trader Joe’s 2x week. He also helped me numerous times with my shopping cart as I tried to keep two boys together at the doorway.. I’ll always remember his words that he would tell my oldest son when he was three to ” always be kind to your mom, she takes good care of you”. It makes me very sad to think how I will answer their question ” Where is Roger?” that they ask every time we pull up now that he is gone..
    His spot won’t be the same without him.

  9. Pingback: Memorial for Roger Gates August 21st « For those who can’t afford free speech

  10. How I will miss “Sundance” out in front of Trader Joe’s! He was always, always ready with a smile and a blessing and a talk about his poems (especially the one for his Mom). He graced our neighborhood and our lives. May God bless you now Sundance … and all your loved ones.

  11. Pingback: Mental Health Association of Portland » Blog Archive » In Memoriam: Roger Gates

Comments are closed as of Dec 17 2012 to prepare for migration of content to our new News site.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s