UES Woman Pays for Neighborhood Homeless Man’s Funeral

Friends through the end.

Richard Coleman was buried at an unmarked grave in New Jersey. (Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

Richard Coleman was buried at an unmarked grave in New Jersey. (Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

He may not have had a true home when living, but a few Upper East Siders have ensured that one homeless man will rest in peace and community.

When Richard Coleman, better known as “Richie,” who lived along First Avenue in the 70s, passed away, the community held a memorial in honor of his friendship.

The memorial, though, wasn’t enough for Juanita Vega, who woke Richie up each morning for 11 years outside the bank where she worked. Ms. Vega paid $2,000 for his burial at the Rosemount Memorial Park Thursday, after she found out he was to be buried in the city’s public cemetery.

“He was a nice person. He didn’t deserve that,” Ms. Vega said. “I just wanted to do the right thing.”

With the help of her boyfriend, a funeral director, Ms. Vega organized a small ceremony to honor the 62-year-old who died mid-April.

“It was really through the good grace of the neighborhood that he was able to survive as long as he did out here,” said Laura Bogdanski, one of the memorial’s organizers. Residents and local shop owners provided Richie with food and clothing over the nearly 15 years he resided in the area.

It’s always a nice reminder that New Yorkers aren’t all terrible.