Updated: 'Wild Bill's' Family Speaks Out About Memorial

Service for the oft-arrested, well-known transient William Pluma Barrios--known in the community as "Wild Bill"--will be held in Hahamongna Park on Nov. 13.

Updated Wednesday: His brother was known as "Wild Bill,'' a homeless man who ranted politics as easily as he talked about rainbows.

And now, Erik Chavez, who would visit William Pluma Barrios at Hahamongna Park, where Barrios both laid his head and made friends who played Frisbee golf, is comforted to know La Cañada residents cared enough to plan a public remembrance. 

"He had a lot of friends, mostly homeless, and a lot of times society looks away from those people,'' Chavez said by phone Wednesday.

Both Chavez and his father are in the middle of making funeral arrangements for Barrios, and had hoped to reach out to the people with whom his brother spent the bulk of his last years. When he heard about the memorial service planned by a handful of congregants from La Cañada Presbyterian Church, Chavez was touched.

"He had a group of people who were always around him. They'd want to be a part of that,'' he said.

Check back on Patch as we learn more about the colorful man whose life crossed the paths of so many residents. You may view the public, memorial Facebook page here.

Earlier: The well-known La Cañada transient, "Wild Bill''----will be memorialized during a ceremony in that park on Nov. 13.

Claudia Zentmyer, a hospital chaplain, and a member of Church, wants to publicly remember William Pluma Barrios, whose nickname derived from a life bedeviled by alcohol. Although she did not know Barrios well, Zentmyer did have several encounters with him over the years.

"I want to do a service because every human being has value as a child of God.  I sensed a need to have a memorial service for Bill since I heard of his death. He was always sweet to me in response to gifts of food, etc.,'' she said.

Barrios, 54, was , which led to many calls to the . He most often slept in Hahamongna Park, which is right across the street from .

Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said Wednesday that cause of death has not been determined yet.

Barrios, whose multiple arrest reports indicated he suffered from mental disabilities, often came in contact with students. Many of the teens commented on his life and death--you can read those sentiments here.

Zentmyer said she checked with the CV Sheriffs Station and the Pasadena Police, but no one is aware of any family.

"Bill was a part of our community for many years.  He was both a responsibility and a blessing to our community. We need to gather to remember him,'' she said.

Zentmyer and a group of friends from La Cañada Presbyterian will host a service starting at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 13 at Hahamonga Park. Folks will meet in the parking lot by the softball field and, from there, move to an available location. Any members of the community who would like to attend are invited, Zentmyer said.

Corey Hegger November 02, 2011 at 12:51 AM
Go Claudia! What a great idea.
Kathy Christie Hernandez November 03, 2011 at 05:47 AM
I agree. Thank you, Claudia.
Chris Evans November 03, 2011 at 02:38 PM
Nice thought, Claudia .. is there a single one of us, anywhere, who at some point in our lives did not feel completely alone and without a purpose? I doubt it. "Wild BIll" personifies this, and the pitfalls such desparation presents. A simple memorial could serve as a reminder that such a fate could befall any of us had we been dealt a different hand. If you're reading this, you're alive, and that means the cards are still coming, and one should take nothing for granted.. Nice idea, Claudia .. I'm certain BIll would approve.
Patrizzi Intergalactica November 03, 2011 at 08:15 PM
"Bill was a part of our community for many years.  He was both a responsibility and a blessing to our community. We need to gather to remember him,'' she said. Zentmyer and a group of friends from La Cañada Presbyterian will host a service starting at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 13 at Hahamonga Park. Folks will meet in the parking lot by the softball field and, from there, move to an available location. Any members of the community who would like to attend are invited, Zentmyer said.
Christopher Nyerges November 04, 2011 at 06:35 PM
I knew Bill well -- he always told me his name was Road Kill Bill. I saw him over nearly 30 years in the Arroyo Seco. I wrote a Blog and poem about him -- If you'd like to read my tribute to Bill, go to Blog at www.ChristopherNyerges.com.
G.Moore November 05, 2011 at 03:31 AM
Bill was a friend to many in Sierra Madre and our Canyon - where he lived for several years, bringing brazen authenticity to life. It was my good fortune to know him. He was a brilliant, beautiful, vibrant, truthful and crazy wonderful individual. Truly existential. He was a poem. – miles.mallard (the barking dog) - G. Moore -
Lisa Maiorana November 05, 2011 at 05:22 AM
is this "the" G. Moore? very well said.
Patrizzi Intergalactica November 05, 2011 at 07:57 AM
We are deep in the poetics now.
Lorraine Pozniak November 05, 2011 at 09:29 PM
So where was this "family" of Bill's and why weren't they taking care of him in the first place?
Chris Evans November 07, 2011 at 01:51 PM
A valid sentiment, Lorraine, and a lot of us share your cynicism. However, an earlier comment submitted by someone who claims to have known him growing up indicated that 'living under the sky' was Bill's choice, and did so against his family's wishes.. I have personally known several street people who have families, even places to live, yet for reasons we will never be able to understand, choose to live on the fringe .. I know it would make me nuts to know that I had family voluntarily living in destitution or squalor, but without a court order directing otherwise, family has no recourse. Hopefully, neither of us will ever get to the point that we can understand where they're coming from, eh?
Lorraine Pozniak November 07, 2011 at 03:23 PM
The sad truth is that the family knew where the man was, knew that he had mental problems, and was slowly, but surely, drinking himself to death. Someone should have done something to save him from himself.
Lisa Maiorana November 07, 2011 at 03:29 PM
Easier said than done Lorraine - I don't know if you've ever had any experience w/someone close to you ( a family member, a friend) that had Schizophrenia but it's not that as easy my dear. First of all it's very hard to committ someone to a mental health facility (especially bc they've closed so many of them down) and to force someone to take their meds when they are dual diagnosed w/alcohol and/or drug problems combined w/mental health problems you have no idea what battle they're facing. A family can only do so much.
Chris Evans November 07, 2011 at 04:03 PM
I could not agree with you more, Lorraine, but that's one of those dicey areas where individual rights come into play, who decides what's acceptable, and what precedent does that set? That's the rub. I worked for many years in state mental hospitals. Then, as now, the funding came under the auspices of the Department of Public Welfare. Then, as now, when budgets get tight, the DPW is generally one of the first to get clobbered with cuts. So when states want to get out of the mental health business, thousands of patients, who had spent years in such locations and knew no other life, get released to the streets when they don't renew their rubber stamped "voluntary" commitments. That many, or even most, have no clue as to their actual commitment status or understood what they were NOT signing, is a moot point. Twenty years later, I still see former patients of mine wandering the streets. It is very sad, indeed, but it keeps coming back to who makes that decision for someone else. Lisa Maiorana is spot on in her assessment of the dilemma this creates for the family.
Lisa Maiorana November 07, 2011 at 04:27 PM
Thank you Chris! Poor Bill - nobody could save him, not even himself.
Chris Evans November 07, 2011 at 04:38 PM
Roger that .. you obviously have had to deal with such things on a personal level, be it a family member or a friend .. you have my empathy .. there really is no difference between that and a terminal illness in the sense of the helplessness this engenders .. and let's face it, we are ALL of us crazy in someone's eyes .. that said, who is entrusted with deciding what's acceptable? Galileo was a heretic, remember? Be well .. take care of yourself
Lisa Maiorana November 07, 2011 at 04:42 PM
@ Chris - my poor Aunt, whom I saw many times as a young child lie flat on the floor from one overdose or another was not what I was suppoed to see. As an adult, it made me realize what I didn't want in life. She too suffered from Schizophrenia and despite every family member at one point or another helping her out at some stage in her life, ultimately there was nothing that could be done. She died on the streets as well. God Bless you Aunt Joann, help Bill if you can.
Susan McConnell November 08, 2011 at 07:52 AM
I am very grateful that Bill is being remembered in his favorite park and his eventual resting place. I have watched and fed him at times for years and, although I sometimes made him mad, we had an understanding. After his death I contacted several local folks and was hoping some good soul would organize a memorial. Just today I found out two very important pieces of info, Bill's favorite song and an issue that he brought up over and over. His song was " Nowadays, Clancy Can't Even Sing" by Buffalo Springfield and his cause was " the trail of broken treaties". Info on both are easily available on Google search. Anything I can do to help I will gladly do. Wouldn't it be great if we could find someone to sing that song on the day? If not, I can bring a recording. My email is susan@turfgirl.com. Hope you are out in the stars with Joe Frazier tonight, Bill. All the best.
Susan McConnell November 08, 2011 at 09:14 AM
What is your point? Nothing to add that is useful? Don't take up the space.
Susan McConnell November 08, 2011 at 09:18 AM
They were a scattered and broken family. It is not always possible to "take care" of a person who is terribly mentally incapacitated. The whole story is very convoluted. If you would like to help figure it out, please do. Look around you. People don't take care of the families right under their own roof! Just trying to send Bill off with a bit of decency. Is that a bad thing?
Susan McConnell November 08, 2011 at 09:22 AM
You might want to volunteer down at Union Station in Pasadena and help serve breakfast, lunch or dinner. See it for yourself. Not everyone is fixed by a family member showing up to rescue them. Lots of I'll folks out there and proud to be a volunteer at Union Station. Help out. It's easy.
Randy Wend February 03, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Bill and I were friends in junior high and would have remained so had my family not moved to Colorado. Even back then he was a free spirit, but very bright and very kind. I've always wondered what became of Bill and I always feared that his life didn't turn out particularly well. This is very sad.


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