Detroit woman makes sure homeless man who became her friend gets headstone after his death

Tiffany Brocker raises money to help homeless friend Gordon King

By Jason Colthorp - Anchor/Reporter, Derick Hutchinson

DETROIT - A Detroit woman is making sure a homeless man who became her friend has a funeral service and resting place after he died.

Six years ago, Tiffany Brocker moved to Detroit and began driving past Gordon King every day on her way to work. She started by giving the homeless man a couple of dollars, and eventually, she would drop off breakfast to him.

She said it became a friendship.

"I would always hope that I'd get there at a red light and have a couple minutes to say hello, good morning," Brocker said.

Brocker said she became friends with "Gordy" and made sure he had clothing and boots for the winter.

"He just had a smile and a sparkle in his eye," Brocker said. "There was just some sort of connection that I felt I was supposed to meet this guy."

For six years, their friendship grew. Out on the street, Brocker's connection with Gordy was evident.

"That was a bond," said Leonardo Williams, who was on Gordy's corner. "They had a bond. He probably knew Tiff a few years. I wish I had a bond like that."

In January 2014, the polar vortex was gripping Metro Detroit, hitting the homeless population especially hard.

"I was really concerned about him, and I was wondering, 'How are homeless dealing with this?'" Brocker said. "Then I happened to see a story on the news. Coincidentally, there he was on the screen."

Brocker said she and her children were relieved to learn Gordy had found a warm place to sleep. It was also a revelation because she finally learned his last name.

"That's how I knew," Brocker said. "It said on the screen: 'Gordon King.' He used to get such a kick out of us pulling up and saying, 'Hi, Mr. King.'"

That lasted until this January, when King seemed to vanish. After searching for months, Brocker finally got the news from someone else at Gordy's corner.

"He said, 'You know Gordy?'" Brocker said. "I said, 'Yes.' He said, 'Oh honey, I'm sorry. Gordy passed away a couple months back.' And it was really hard to hear that, to know I didn't get a chance to say goodbye, not knowing if he died alone or what the circumstances were."

Brocker made it her mission to make sure Gordy has a funeral service and a final resting place. She thinks he'd be happy to know that.

"He is still part of our prayer every morning," Brocker said. "When we pull up to the corner, the kids ask, 'Who do you think is at Gordy's corner today?' So I would hope he knew that he was part of our family and not just a stranger."

Verheyden Funeral Home is doing the funeral for free Aug. 9. Brocker is raising money for the headstone and floral spray for the casket. Any additional money will go to the Pope Francis Center, which services 170 people per day by providing meals, showers and mental health care.

Click here to visit the GoFundMe page.

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