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Family had sought help for dead woman in Heritage Park

Original post made on Dec 23, 2013

The family of the woman who was found dead in Heritage Park Saturday had enlisted InnVision Shelter Network to track her down two days before she died, but the nonprofit homeless-services organization couldn't find her in time.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, December 23, 2013, 12:10 PM

Comments (31)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 23, 2013 at 1:01 pm

This is a sad story for all involved.

Many homeless people are not just down on their luck, but due to mental issues or the inability to fit in with the rules, just choose to continue to live rough on the streets. There is help out there but for some reason some choose not to accept it. It is hard for us as fellow humanity to understand this, but for some there is little that can be done.

If there is any good to come out of this, perhaps a little understanding of what it must be like to be a family member of one of these chronic homeless. They are not really residents of Palo Alto, but they are part of the community and I thank God that there are people who are willing to try and help them.

My prayers for the family involved.


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Posted by Martha Shirk
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 23, 2013 at 2:35 pm

I have known Gloria for about 15 years through my volunteer work at the Food Closet, and I am deeply saddened by her death. She was one of my favorite clients, and I looked forward to serving her every week. The Monday volunteers often put aside food that we knew she would like, and once she lost the ability to use a can opener because of an injury to a finger, we saved cans with pop tops for her. She clearly looked forward to making choices from the array of foods we offered her and expressed delight when there were particularly appealing desserts. Gloria shared little about her history except that she had once been a registered nurse and that she had a daughter. Although her face was weathered from living outdoors, she had clearly been a beautiful woman, and still somehow managed to keep her long hair clean and neatly styled. She had a great sense of style and decorated her many satchels with colorful patches. Many of us at the Food Closet tried to persuade her to seek help getting housing or health care, but she always waved us off, saying, "I'm alright." She had fallen off a bench at the train station a month or two ago and got a deep gash on her forehead, which she had taped together. Gloria was aware that there were numerous services available that could help her, but her mental illness prevented her from accepting them. My condolences to her daughter, whom I know loved her very much and tried to help her. It is distressing to those of us who work with homeless people in Palo Alto to see so many unfeeling comments appended to articles about their deaths (so many that the editors cut off comments to the previous story about her death). Mental illness can strike anyone, and you can't force people to accept help. You can only make sure that it is accessible and humane.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 23, 2013 at 2:36 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Martha Shirk
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 23, 2013 at 2:49 pm

I knew Gloria for 15 years and looked forward to my weekly interactions with her at the Food Closet. She was one of my favorite clients. She never failed to express delight at being able to choose from among the food offerings. She was a woman of great pride, and had clearly been a beauty, although her face was weathered from living outdoors. She had a great sense of style, patching her various backpacks and satchels with colorful fabric swatches and choosing clothes from other people's discards that accentuated her beautiful eyes. She was very secretive about her past, but once told me that she had been a nurse and that she had a daughter, who I know tried to help her. People in Palo Alto should know that her death does not represent a failure of the "system." Many of us who volunteer at the Food Closet or work at the Opportunity Center tried to persuade Gloria to accept services. Her mental illness made her paranoid and suspicious; she wouldn't even accept a pair of new shoes when she lost one of the flip flops she wore yearround. It pains those of us who cared about her to see that so many objectionable comments were posted at the end of the previous article about her death that the Weekly closed down the comment section; some blamed the community for her death, and others blamed her. Homelessness and mental illness are complex issues that require complex solutions. My heart goes out to her family.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 23, 2013 at 3:01 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 23, 2013 at 3:32 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by palo alto native
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 23, 2013 at 3:35 pm

I saw her almost everyday as I walked to work. I will miss seeing her.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 23, 2013 at 3:43 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 23, 2013 at 4:06 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 23, 2013 at 6:20 pm

If her daughter kept tabs on her, how weird that Gloria didn't just stay with her. At least she'd have a place to sleep at night.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 23, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Did anyone watch Mr. Stink last night? While intended for children, it offered great insight into the choices homeless people make. Some of them have "restless souls" as Mr. Stink did, and don't feel comfortable being housed. A "restless soul" is an apt way of describing many things, including mental illness, which prevent people from feeling safe and secure when housed, as the rest of us feel.

I am sorry for this woman's passing, and that her family wasn't able to connect with her prior. Condolences also to her other loved ones around town who cared about her.


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Posted by Martha Shirk
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 23, 2013 at 7:05 pm

I knew Gloria for 15 years and looked forward to my weekly interactions with her at the Food Closet. She was one of my favorite clients. She never failed to express delight at being able to choose from among the food offerings. She was a woman of great pride, and had clearly been a beauty, although her face was weathered from living outdoors. She had a great sense of style, patching her various backpacks and satchels with colorful fabric swatches and choosing clothes from other people's discards that accentuated her beautiful eyes. She was very secretive about her past, but once told me that she had been a nurse and that she had a daughter, who I know tried to help her. People in Palo Alto should know that her death does not represent a failure of the "system." Many of us who volunteer at the Food Closet or work at the Opportunity Center tried to persuade Gloria to accept services. Her mental illness made her paranoid and suspicious; she wouldn't even accept a pair of new shoes when she lost one of the flip flops she wore year round. It pains those of us who cared about her to see that so many objectionable comments were posted at the end of the previous article about her death that the Weekly closed down the comment section; some blamed the community for her death, and others blamed her. Homelessness and mental illness are complex issues that require complex solutions. My heart goes out to her family.


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Posted by Raymond
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 24, 2013 at 9:21 am

We are free to die in ignominy, in this country.


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Posted by Innvision Not Helpful
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 24, 2013 at 10:28 am

Invision (Opportunity Center) is full of Sh.. They used to help before, but now they have a new manager who makes it very difficult for people to qualify and get the emergency help they need. Many families have been discouraged to go and get help and have actually been dropped from the food help program. Before this,there was a nice lady called Yvonne, she was the best and did not make people feel bad about coming to ask for help. I did went and got help when she was there, but after they replace her, it has not been the same. I am not surprised that this lady died before they could help her. Even if she did ask for help I know that there are a lot of hurdles she will have to face before she got the help. If she was lucky to get it. I am not surprised that the lady died before Innvision could help her.


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Posted by James Hall
a resident of another community
on Dec 24, 2013 at 10:48 am

This is a sad story of course. The thought of this person dying alone during a cold night or morning in the park. Especially when another story today is on the same page with a woman ranting about homeless and car campers cluttering up her Palo Alto life. Doesn't this contrast make you think deeply about what our larger community is perhaps becoming?


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Posted by James Hall
a resident of another community
on Dec 24, 2013 at 11:01 am

A sad story; an elderly and troubled woman dying alone during a cold night or morning on a park bench. Doesn't this make you think of the contrast between this depressing event and the accompanying story with comments from a ranting woman about homeless and car campers cluttering up her vision of Palo Alto?


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Posted by Gary Ruppel
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 24, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Sad beyond words. InVision does good work and I am certain that they did what they could in this situation.


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Posted by Bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 24, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Bru is a registered user.

Martha Shirk commented:

>> It pains those of us who cared about her to see that so many objectionable comments were posted at the end of the previous article about her death that the Weekly closed down the comment section; some blamed the community for her death, and others blamed her. Homelessness and mental illness are complex issues that require complex solutions. My heart goes out to her family.

This is a sad situation and it seems to really bring out extremes in people, maybe because it's not really clear what to think or what to do. It's hard for some of us to consider that maybe in the minds of these people they are doing what they want to do. It is their choice to live like this, and die.

Should people be allowed to live and die among the mechanical workings of our modern society I think is the question? Is there any room for the nonconformist or even the people we want to say are sick. Anything we thing has its contradictions and problems, but I tend to believe that people should be able to go their own way and should not be interfered with until the bump up against someone else's rights.

Our existing laws give latitude enough for the police and social services agencies respond respectfully and appropriately to the concerns of everyone. There is certainly no need for people as soon as they see an issue tangent to housing, homelessness or property rights to bust in and insult and abuse the forum and everyone else's rights under the delusion that they have a corner on the truth and righteousness.

Seems to me these are the kind of people that are different from most of us in that they just choose not to fit in to the expectations of daily life, and I think they should have a right to choose to do that. If we were a small hunter gatherer community or subsistence farming village these are people that would live on the periphery and be considered the hermits of holy people ... that is, in some way they teach us something. Human society loses something when we remove everything we consider that is outside the system from our view, we are lesser people for it.

In my opinion the Earth was not created for the military-industrial-financial system to take control of it and impose and order that is nowhere near as sustainable, diverse or deep in its complexity, and our system should be able to accept nonconformists without flying into a rage and demand they be treated like insects. Our system does not need to be at war with everything it does not understand.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 24, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Craig Laughton is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 24, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Bru is a registered user.

[Post removed due to referencing a deleted comment.]


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Posted by how tragic
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 24, 2013 at 3:51 pm

This is so sad to hear about. I hope her family can find peace in this awful time.


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Posted by empire vintage
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 24, 2013 at 4:13 pm

she walked past my shop every day, in fact we crossed paths a lot. She always smiled, kept her head up and just kept going. I recognize her in the photo.
I hope she can find peace and rest.


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Posted by empire vintage
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 24, 2013 at 4:13 pm

she walked past my shop every day, in fact we crossed paths a lot. She always smiled, kept her head up and just kept going. I recognize her in the photo.
I hope she can find peace and rest.


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Posted by empire vintage
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 24, 2013 at 4:16 pm

she walked past my shop every day, in fact we crossed paths a lot. She always smiled, kept her head up and just kept going. I recognize her in the photo.
I hope she can find peace and rest.


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Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 24, 2013 at 4:25 pm

This is such a nice article, and it's so good to know she had family who cared about her. Hopefully she died peacefully. It sounds like she was able to live in a way that was acceptable to her.


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Posted by Gary Ruppel
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 24, 2013 at 4:43 pm

So sad. InVision provides a great service and I am certain that they did all they could to assist in this situation


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Posted by Nienke
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 24, 2013 at 4:58 pm

We were very sad to hear of Gloria Bush's death. We saw her most days and often discussed what we could do to help her and others. It saddens us to not know how we could help her and others that wish to remain anonymous whilst living out amongst the elements, raising their risk of harm on many levels.
Bush's body language was sweet and gentle, and she would sit peacefully each day on the bench at the corner of Heritage Park.
My daughters and I visited her bench today and had a peaceful thought for her and her family. I'm sorry for her family's loss. God bless.


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Posted by member
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 24, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Thank you PA Weekly for publishing this article and writing about Gloria Bush. She will be remembered.


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Posted by Craig Wiesner
a resident of University South
on Dec 25, 2013 at 8:59 am

As one of the many people in and around Palo Alto who work to help those in need of food and shelter, it is heart-breaking to know that someone many of us has served died out on the streets. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gloria Bush's family, her friends, all those whose lives she touched, and to all of the people who, for whatever reason, live outside the margins. May we continue to work to help as many people in need as we can.


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Posted by Karen
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 25, 2013 at 9:44 am

I remember Gloria at the East meadow, breaking bread meals that I have gone too.
I often would sit across from Gloria and not say much and one day she was talking to her self, and i said Gloria and she would always say yes, when you spoke her name. though this day she was talking to herself and I said to her, i do that too, I often talk to myself, and I answer myself too, I am the only one that gives me the answers I want to hear.

At one time many years ago, I was where she has been, meaning Gloria. I had a great compassion for that woman Gloria Bush will not be forgotten.
I will keep her in my thoughts
and my thoughts go out to her family and she had lots of friends, even though she did not talk much.

we sat and talked that day, I did most of the talking, though I did not talk about her, i talked to her.


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Posted by Mel
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 25, 2013 at 1:14 pm

I love what Murphy said, we should honor her. Every life is valuable and deserves to be honored. I hope there is a great turnout tomorrow for Ms. Bush.


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