In Memory of Johnny Lee Purcell

In this week of many blessings, there has been sorrow, too. On Wednesday, our social worker received a phone call from the Medical Examiner’s Office saying that a Johnny Lee Purcell had died over the weekend, and listed our address. He had no family contacts listed. This loss is compounded by the fact that, in spite of having proper identification, Johnny Lee was still relatively anonymous; “…a Johnny Lee Purcell,” as if to say, one of many Johnny Lees—but not one known to us. The address he listed is that of a day shelter in a local church. While it’s true that the staff at The Bridge work to supply the everyday needs of those who are currently homeless, it isn’t “home,” and it isn’t meant to be. It’s our ultimate goal to help our guests secure independence and to get a home of their own. Though we’re glad that we could help and support you, Johnny, we’re sorry that The Bridge was the only place you had to call home. “He had no family contacts listed.” This, perhaps, is the true tragedy of Johnny’s life; that when it ended, there was no record of anyone that he believed would care enough to want to be notified of his death. All that we know of Johnny Lee Purcell comes from Peter, our front desk volunteer, who said: “He was a young man, probably in his thirties. We didn’t really talk much, but when he came in for his mail, we did exchange pleasantries.” Goodbye, Johnny Lee Purcell. Our prayer is that your passing was peaceful and that you’re now at rest—and, finally, home.