Street Spirit vendor Arthur Roper died on Friday, January 24, of complications from a stroke. He was 83 years old.
Art was born in Dallas Texas on September 5, 1936. He lived in Berkeley most of his life, and worked as a custodian at the South Berkeley Drop In Center for over 20 years, according to Executive Director of the Alameda County Network of Mental Health Clients, Katrina Killian.
“He was a sweetheart, a loving husband and father” Art’s wife, Rosalind Smith, said. “He took care of my children like they were his own.” The two were married ten years ago in Downtown Oakland. She still smiles when she remembers the day he got down on one knee in his Fruitvale apartment and proposed to her. Rosalind says that Art is the reason she was able to exit homelessness. “He took me up off the streets, moved me into his apartment, put me on his lease, and married me,” she says. “He was the kind of man who liked to help people in need.”
Art was homeless for the final years of his life. He was a beloved resident of the Here/There community encampment in South Berkeley. As of this writing, his death marks the fifth homeless person to die in the City of Berkeley in 2020.
“Seniors are one of the most disenfranchised, forgotten groups of homeless people,” says Joe Pendleton of the Here/There community camp. “He wouldn’t have died that day if he had been living at a home.”
Art is survived by his daughter, Sandra.
Alastair Boone is the Co-Editor in Chief of Street Spirit.