Memorial held for man found dead at Boise park

Posted at 6:19 PM, Feb 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-08 05:30:50-05

Advocates for the homeless and friends of Perry "Rusty" Woodard had the chance to remember and honor his life Sunday.

Woodard's body was found along the banks of the Boise River in Julia Davis Park on Jan. 30 where the 48-year-old died from natural causes.

It was said at the memorial that was held just across the river from where he died that each homeless person has a unique and complicated story as to how they got there and that seems to apply in Woodard's case.

The Salt Lake City native moved to Idaho at a young age.

When he grew up, Woodard got a job working on a farm. He handled produce until he became disabled in 1991. That's when everything changed for him.

Woodard moved around some before calling Boise his home. He frequented Corpus Christi, stayed at Interfaith Sanctuary and was known along Cooper Court.

Those who knew Woodard wished they had done more.

"He needed help, you know, probably more than we were able to give him," said Jodi Peterson, a Cooper Court advocate. "And so, I think we all just have regret right now."

According to Peterson, Woodard suffered from a mental illness.

"For many of the people who are chronically homeless and mentally ill, a support team is super necessary because they can't solve problems on their own," she said.

People who never even met Woodard were in attendance encouraging the community to rally around the homeless, to surround them with compassion and hope.

After Cooper Court was cleaned up, city of Boise leaders said they would announce their long-term solutions to combating homelessness and the root causes sometime in the first quarter of 2016. It's something members of the Boise/Ada County Homeless Coalition, who organized the memorial, are eager to hear about and be a part of.

"I'd like to see how this will play out with regards to what it is that Boise will be doing next for homelessness," said Peg Richards, president of the Boise/Ada County Homeless Coalition. "It should be interesting."

Woodard's family had his body transported to Idaho Falls where he was laid to rest on Saturday.