Most people can relate to the fact that life can be challenging. Although for some of us, life can bring far greater challenges. After losing both of his parents at a young age, Derrick was determined to pave his own way through life. He was the guy known by many as “Dudeman.” Described by many as a free spirit and self-proclaimed advocate for his homeless brothers and sisters, he was the homeless guy on the corner with the self-designed mobile bike shelter that he hoped someday could be mass produced so that no one would be without a dry place to sleep. He lived life on his own terms, and touched the hearts of many people along the way. Though he didn’t have a life filled with material wealth, he seemed pleased to focus his life on sharing his abundant love and compassion for others. The community got to know this young man as he pedaled his mobile shelter around town along with his four-legged companions. He was a homeless guy doing the best he could with what little he had. As so many of you have mentioned, despite his personal hardships, he always greeted you with his caring eyes, engaging smile, and compassionate nature.
Although society might consider his life circumstances as unusually difficult, the homeless are often looked upon as an unproductive nuisance to society. Knowing the story of how Derrick “Dudeman” McDougal lived and the impact he had within the community of Lacey and broader Olympia, this stigma of the homeless couldn’t be further from the truth. Derrick touched the lives of many simply by being a creative homeless guy with a desire to help others. It is the impact the “Dudeman” had on the community that spurred an outpouring of desire to help locate his family, establish a donation website to assist with funeral expenses, and care for his four-legged companions. It was a special group of people led by Olympia Memes, who organized a candlelight vigil so the community could celebrate Derrick’s life and provide donations to the Concern for Animals organization.
We may never know why “Dudeman” decided to take his life—maybe he was tired of the stigma that faces the homeless community, or exhausted from the extraordinary hardships he faced each day. Regardless of his reason, this tragedy has ignited a flame and inspired a community to help drive change. It is the compassion and love of these people we do not know but were touched by Derrick that has uplifted the spirit of our family. Through this tragedy great things have been born. It is our hope that we can continue Derrick’s journey and help drive necessary change to improve the lives of the homeless and put an end to the desperate nature of suicide. This is a cause the “Dudeman” would have been proud of—a legacy born from people who cared about a homeless guy who lived to love and pedaled his way into their hearts.
Thank you so much Olympia Memes and people in the community who lifted our spirits in a time of pain.
The siblings and family of
Derrick “Dudeman” McDougal