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'Artie' Remembered as a Gentle Soul

Jan 19, 2018 08:22PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Residents listen to each other sharing stories at a memorial service for Artie.

A crowd of more than 50 people gathered on the wood chip path behind Fry's Electronics on Friday night at a memorial service for Artie, a local homeless man who passed away two weeks ago.

Artie was remembered as a gentle soul who frequently told others he didn't lack for anything, and who would surrender his own possessions if he believed that others needed them more.

"So often people who live on the street get used to being anonymous," the Rev. Dr. William L. Hurst, the senior pastor of First Lutheran Church in Torrance, told the crowd. "That feeling of being a ghost - being invisible - being anonymous - is one of those crosses that homeless people bear. By your presence here tonight, you honor [Artie] and you bear witness to the fact that he was not invisible."

The memorial was organized by Manhattan Beach resident Ed Balazs, whose family came to know Artie three years ago when Balazs' then-8-year-old son Eddie was worried about him and wanted to bring him pizza.

The memorial service involved brief prayers led by Hurst, a longtime friend of Balazs', and then an opportunity for those who knew Artie to share their memories.

Young Eddie Balazs, speaking at the memorial, said of Artie, "He never asked for anything. If you asked him 'What do you want?' he would say, 'I'm good right now.'"

Another neighbor, Barbara Chobanian, said that at one point when Artie's shopping cart was stolen, Artie assured her that the person who took it would give it back in a month. "He said, 'He needs that cart more than I do - I'll be fine,'" she said. "Artie was always saying he was on 'his journey.'"

Former Laker Steve Nash, speaking at the memorial, recalled a time at Christmas one year when he bought Artie a gift card to CVS. When he handed it to Artie, who was apparently a basketball fan, Artie removed his headphones and said with a grin, "You're my shooter!"

Nash spoke thoughtfully about the possibilities that all of our children have, "high or low," and the fact that sometimes despite family efforts, a person might fall through the cracks. But, he added, Artie seemed to be satisfied with his life. "He had an incredible outlook," remembered Nash.

The memorial service concluded with the singing of "Amazing Grace."

Hurst and Balazs thanked so many neighbors for coming out to pay their respects. Balazs added that those who wish to make a donation in Artie's honor are asked to consider two local organizations that care for the homeless: Harbor Interfaith and South Bay Coalition to End Homelessness.

"One of the best things we can do tonight is to go forth and remember the other 'Arties,'" concluded Hurst.

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