This morning we were contacted by Lea Grey Dimond, the owner of Thidwick Books who told us that Thomas, the African-American homeless man that made camp at Funston and Clement, died in his sleep last night.
Thomas’ full name was Thomas Myron Hooker, and based on conversations Dimond had with him, along with his accent, she learned that he was originally from Trinidad. He also spent time in Chicago before coming to San Francisco.
Thomas was a homeless fixture in the Richmond District for 20+ years. He made camp near Star of Sea Parish for many years, and then moved over into the Park Presidio greenbelt. For the last several years, he has camped every night on the northwest corner of Funston at Clement Street.“This was a man who never asked for anything,” Dimond told us. She would offer him tents and sleeping bags for shelter but he would refuse. She came to learn that any kind of enclosure upset him.
“He lived in another realm, he was elsewhere, not of this world,” Dimond said. Thomas would talk about flying to the ocean several times a day. Most of the time he was cheerful, optimistic and kind, and neighbors in the area often brought him food.
Every day, Thomas worked his way east on Clement Street with his shopping cart, and would stand at the corner of 9th Avenue near the Walgreens, usually talking to himself. Restaurants along Clement Street would often give him food. But every night he returned to Funston and Clement to sleep.
Dimond posted a sign on her bookstore, Thidwick Books, to notify neighbors of Thomas’ passing.
“I want people to know what happened. A lot of people in the neighborhood know who he is and look out for him,” she said.
Dimond called the Medical Examiner to find out what would happen to Thomas. She was relieved to hear that the city will pay for his cremation and the spreading of his ashes at sea.
“He would love that, he loved the ocean and being outside,” Dimond said.
“Thomas – who flew to and from the ocean every day, and spoke with birds, and he once woke to a cloud of butterflies kissing him – may he rest in peace,” Dimond’s sign said.
UPDATE: A memorial service will be held at Star of the Sea Church (4420 Geary) for Thomas on Monday, November 7 at 7pm.
P.S.- A reader alerted us to Thomas’ inclusion in a 2015 documentary called “Voices“, which profiles three people dealing with psychotic mental illness. The trailer is below and the full film is available on Amazon.