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· Premium Member
1,836 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Most of you that drive around the area have seen him for years. Just a friendly guy who will wave, greet you and tell you to have a nice day. He never asks for money and is always nice to talk to when you're waiting in traffic.

The vancouver sun did a story on him today


Everyone knew him as Jerry.

He was a fixture.

Most days, rain or shine, he would stroll up and down the narrow median at the intersection of Cassiar and East Hastings, waving to the passing cars, and offering a kind word or joke to the motorists backed up in traffic. It was his intent, he would always say, to make the world a better place simply by brightening up someone's day. He made a lot of people smile.

"If you're a Canadian in the kitchen, what are you in the bathroom?


"What did one strawberry say to the other strawberry?

"If you weren't so sweet we wouldn't be in this jam."

The median was his turf, and he took it upon himself to keep it clean of litter. When it snowed, he might build a snowman on it. On Valentine's Day, he wore red. On St. Patrick's Day, he wore green. During the Christmas season, he wore a Santa's hat.

Jerry was there for years, and so many people came to know and like him they began to call him the King of Cassiar or, more simply, the Waving Guy. His fame, if it could be called that, spread, and he was featured in several television news spots and mentioned in a couple of books. Someone even started a site about him on Facebook: "The Friends of The Waving Guy at Hastings and Cassiar." At last count, it had 2,191 registered members. The entries, all of them glowing, go on for pages.

"He makes my day when I drive by. I think he believes it his Life Job to wave and smile at strangers. He has probably changed 1000's of people's negative attitude to positive. I believe smiling is contagious. Good for him."

"He always says to whatever guy I'm in the car with, 'Keep her smiling son, we need the sunshine!' It totally makes my day!"

"I LOVE THIS GUY! He always makes me laugh, even if I'm having a bad day."


But while many people knew of Jerry, no one seemed to know him. Many of the postings on the Facebook site were from those wanting to know more about his background. What was his full name? Where had he come from? What was his story? Why was he doing what he was doing? Was he panhandling?

Some offered up bits of information, information that usually came from Jerry himself. Oddly, these often seemed contradictory, and sometimes hard to believe. That he had asked the City of Vancouver if he could do this because he was retired and had nothing better to do. That he never asked for money. That he would take money if it was offered to him. That he had a couple of university degrees. That he had once been a lawyer or a doctor. That he had cancer. That he had a son who was a doctor in Chicago. That he had a son who was a hockey player in B.C. That he once had a lot of money but had fallen on hard times. That he lived in North Vancouver. That he lived in east Vancouver.

In early January, people began to notice that Jerry was not making his regular appearance on the median. Then word came out:

Jerry died on March 11. He had died of cancer.

His death made the news on a couple of radio stations, and Global TV reporter Mike McCardell, who had done several spots on Jerry, did a short piece on him last Saturday. His full name, McCardell reported, was Jerry Dzikowicz, that he had chosen the median at East Hastings and Cassiar because he liked horse racing and was close to Hastings Racecourse, and that he had been living with a woman named Michelle Stitchman, who McCardell interviewed. (And my thanks to Mike for passing along her phone number to me.)

I phoned Stitchman at her place in the Downtown Eastside. She and Jerry had known each other for four years, she said, and had been partners for about three. They had met when she was managing one of the area's hotels, when she was in a bad way and down on her luck. Jerry had moved into one of the rooms and became concerned about her. Their relationship bloomed into love.

"I was new to the hard life down here," she said, "and he took me under his wing. He kind of showed me the ropes and protected me from a lot of the kind of people down here who would try to take advantage of a person like me."

Of his life on the median, Stitchman said, Jerry saw it as his job, one he loved and was committed to doing well. He received government assistance and Canada Pension Plan early disability payments, she said, which amounted to just under $900 a month, but he would supplement that with the sometimes not inconsiderable sums people would give him while he was on the median.

"He never asked for money," she said. "He never panhandled. He didn't ask. People just gave it to him."

Sometimes, she said, people might give him $50 to $100 a day, and during the Christmas season as much as $500 to $800 a day.

"Plus Christmas gifts," Stitchman said. "This Christmas, we got a portable oven, a vaporizer and a microwave. Jerry wouldn't ask for them; people would just come up and say, 'Jerry, what do you need?' "

Even the accommodation they had been living in when Jerry died, she said, had been a kind of gift. One businesswoman who "adored" Jerry had "pulled some strings" and through contacts of hers had got Jerry and her placed in a good, low-cost non-market apartment building in the Downtown Eastside.

Even Jerry's obituary, which is running in both The Vancouver Sun and Province this weekend, was paid for by one of Jerry's admirers, she said. (His funeral will take place this coming Friday at 3 p.m. at Glenhaven Memorial Chapel at 1835 East Hastings.)

He had been diagnosed with stomach cancer before she met him, she said, and an operation failed to get all of the cancer. In the last year of his life, it had spread to his liver, lungs and brain.

"The amount of pain that man was in people never saw, because he wouldn't let people know. He wanted them to smile. So every day, he wore a mask covering his pain."

He got really ill just after Christmas, she said, and died at May's Place, the hospice and palliative care centre in the neighbourhood.

And what of Jerry's background? Had he talked about it to her?

"Oh, ya, sure. He came from Winnipeg. And he was born on an airplane! He was a premature baby and his mother had him right there in the airplane above Winnipeg. He was an only child. He was married there, and got divorced. He made a living by following the exhibition circuit around the country and hawking goods and facebook posting on 'The Friends of The Waving Guy at Hastings and Cassiar' novelty items at them, things like Glow Sticks.

"But Jerry was a kind of private person, and he would only tell people what he wanted them to know. His philosophy was, the more people know about you, the more they can harm you."

Then Stitchman offered a link to a more distant part of Jerry's past. He had two sons, she said, Jayson and Jeffrey, both of them living in Winnipeg. She had never talked to them. Neither had Jerry since she had known him.

After a series of phone calls, I got Jayson Dzikowicz on his cellphone in his car. He was in the U.S. and on his way to a hockey tournament in North Dakota. He said his brother, Jeffrey, was on his way to the same tournament.

I told him who I was and why I was phoning. I told him I was sorry to tell him that his father had died. He hadn't heard, he said. He and his brother had not seen his father for more than 15 years. His mother and father had divorced when they were young, he said, and his relationship with them had steadily gone downhill.

At one time in his life, he said, his father had been brilliant, the witty centre of things, the life of the party, the guy with a million friends. But then, in the mid-1960s, his father had been involved in a terrible car accident: He had been working for 36 hours straight, Jayson said, and ran into a telephone pole. He was thrown through the windshield and nearly decapitated. He had a steel plate put into the top of his head.

Whether this changed his father, he couldn't say (though he liked to think it did), but he became unreliable. He would be late in picking up the boys, or not show up at all, or not come through on promises he made.

"As much as we loved him, he was never reliable. It was one letdown after another."

At one point, Jayson said, his father went to California. There, he found Glow Sticks, and brought them back to Canada to sell at exhibitions along with other novelties. Then things went downhill.

"He was extremely, extremely brilliant, but he was one of those people who didn't want to work hard to make money, but he always wanted to make money quicker."

His father ended up doing three years in Manitoba's Stony Mountain prison for fraud in the early 1970s, Jayson said. Something to do with falsifying credit cards.

Exactly when his father came out to Vancouver, Jayson wasn't sure, but in the meantime, his grandfather became the father figure in his and his brother's life. Both he and his brother grew up to be successful, solid citizens (with Jayson, at one time, playing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers), and both now have families. Jayson has four children and Jeffrey has two. His father, he said, never met his grandchildren.

"Most of my thought processes as a dad," Jayson said, "are based in the things that hurt me as a kid."

The last time he saw his father, Jayson said, was in 1994, at his grandfather's funeral. Things did not go well. It ended up with him and his brother asking his father to leave. They never saw him again.

For all of that, Jayson tried to see him. He had heard rumours, he said, that his father was on the street in Vancouver, and whenever he was here on business, which was often, he said, he would drive around to see if he could spot him. The awful irony was that so many people knew exactly where he could be found on the street every day.

Near the end of our phone call, I apologized again to Jayson for giving him such awful news, but he said: "No, no, I'm glad you did. I'm very sad, of course. Despite everything that happened in my life, despite all the goofy things he did, I love him."

At the other end of the line, I could hear Jayson crying.

[email protected] 604-605-2905

· Premium Member
1,546 Posts
When I drove for Fedex I saw him nearly every day. He never asked for money or any type of hand out. He always yelled to the Fedex drivers "4 down 1 to go hang in there" !

· Superfly
2,142 Posts
Wow, what a story. The twists and turns of a peoples lives never ceases to amaze me. I passed him every day, I liked him waving and I waved back, reminded me of growing up in a small town where everyone waves at each other when you drive past. I was wondering where he was.

· Registered
5,838 Posts
I wondered where he went, and I always wondered why he was there. It was just unusual to see a guy in the median without a cardboard sign.

· Registered
2,324 Posts
This whole thread is inspirational boys and girls.

I have never been waved to by him so I propose we erect a statue in his normal spot so he can always be waving. This way here I can one day enjoy his contributions to society.

I was glad to hear that his children still had a good up bringing and grew up normal and suffered very little due to his psycoligical issues. Not all children are so lucky.
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