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Woodstock residents honour life of beloved man who lived rough in the city for decades | CBC News

Over 150 people turned up at Museum Square in Woodstock, Ont. Tuesday to honour the life of Johnny Bagley, known as just “Johnny,” who had been living rough in the city for decades by some accounts. Bagley had died three days earlier.

People gathered in the square on the sunny evening to listen to stories, music and prayers. There was a moment silence, too, followed by “Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin. 

“Everybody just loved him,” said Cheri McKnight, who helped organize Tuesday’s memorial. She got to know Bagley well through her outreach work with the homeless population in the downtown core. “He was fun. He always smiled.”

“He was the best fed homeless man that I know because everybody gave him food and drink,” she added.

The memorial was held at Museum Square in Woodstock, Ont. (James Chaarani/CBC)

Between 2010 and 2017, there were 39,408 people who were experiencing homelessness in the province — Bagley among them — and McKnight felt it was important for the community to have this memorial.

“I think for his friends, the people living on the streets, they need this,” she said. “And I think the city needs it too, to say goodbye.”

‘One of a kind person’ 

Tina Schettler had met Bagley when she first moved to the city, after he’d asked her for change.

“I gave him a toonie and we became friends ever since then,” she said. 

“I would give him a loonie when I could or a toonie when I could,” she added. “I’d buy him a coffee now and again, and he was just a very delightful man, I found. He was homeless but he still had a smile on his face all the time.” 

Tina Schettler has been friends with Johnny ever since she gave him change when she first moved to the city. (James Chaarani/CBC)

Lloyd Cosby, who does outreach with Woodstock’s homeless population, knew Bagley for many years. 

“He’s just one of a kind person,” he said. 

“I know he was well loved by everybody in Woodstock,” he added.

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