A memorial is growing on Beacon Avenue and Fourth Street in Sidney for a beloved street artist known as Mr. Beads.
Mr. Beads’ real name is Robert Schram and he died after battling chronic health issues last week.
“It was devastating as you can see for a lot of people here, a lot of people have been telling me they’re so upset they’re crying,” said Sidney resident Mary Isitt.
Isitt says she noticed Schram, who had been living in a tent in a local park for years, didn’t look well last fall so she contacted an outreach team. They were eventually able to secure shelter in a local group home for Schram in February but he died two weeks later at just 58-years-old.
Sidney’s mayor, who has known Schram for a decade, says his death is a reminder that more needs to be done to provide supports and housing for the handful of local people experiencing homelessness.
“With people having got to know Mr. Beads, we will remember him, and he’s reminded us that we need to do more to provide supports so people can have the dignity of supporting themselves,” said Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith.
Yet despite years battling through wind, rain and snow in a tent, Mr. Beads would show up to his spot on Beacon Avenue each day with a smile. His friends from the street say he always looked out for them.
“I will miss him, even though some days he annoyed me,” his friend Henry Williams joked. “He still makes me smile even though he’s not here, still makes me smile.”
Just like his art, Mr. Beads’ ability to make people smile has helped sew the entire community together, even now bringing people together to share a memory or their grief at his growing memorial site.
“Sometimes you just don’t realize how much difference one person can really make,” said one man, a courier, who said talking to Schram was a highlight of his day.
“I think people feel like they lost a significant member of our community,” said Isitt.
A small, socially distanced memorial service for Robert Schram is planned for Saturday, March 6 at 12:00 p.m. at Beacon and Fourth.