Dead transient identified and remembered

February 21, 2013

Homeless people die on the streets, few of them remembered at all by anyone. In West Hollywood, a transient found dead on Santa Monica Boulevard two weeks ago has been identified – and a friend of his has stepped forward to provide a context for his life.

Late last week, Los Angeles County Coroner’s officials identified the man found dead in the 8700 block of Santa Monica Boulevard on February 9 as Emory Clark, age 47. Coroner’s Office spokesman Ed Winter said Mr. Clark apparently died of natural causes, but an official cause of death would not be determined until toxicology tests are completed. An autopsy was conducted on Tuesday, and the final reports will likely take several weeks, said Dr. Winter.

photo credit Jerome Cleary

Mr. Clark was found at 9:20 am outside the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf store at Hancock Avenue. As there was no indication of foul play, Sheriff’s deputies turned the investigation over to the coroner’s office.

His passing brought an outpouring of emotions from the people in the neighborhood and those who frequented the coffee shop and included three posted signs and a bunch of flowers to honor his memory. Although West Hollywood’s code compliance officers take down illegally posted signs from street poles and vacant storefronts, his memorial signs were left untouched.

A Pennsylvania man named Blake Mauney stepped forward to, “share a little information from Emory's past… Emory Lee Clark III was a 1984 graduate of RJ Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem, NC. He continued his education and graduated from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte immediately following high school.

“While residing in Winston-Salem during his high school years, Emory was a member of New Light Baptist Church where he loved sharing his talent of singing,” wrote Mr. Mauney. “I personally worked with Emory in summer enrichment productions in the Piedmont Triad Area of NC during the 1980s that were sponsored by the public school system. He also was involved in the following years with lead roles in the Little Theater of W/S in productions of "The Wiz" and "Big River.”

photo credit Jerome Cleary

“Our paths crossed again during his time living in Charlotte when we both were summer performers for Carowinds Themepark in shows that were produced by Kings Productions. I specifically remember one production at the park, "Breakaway,” a pop music outdoor show where he performed. I recall other singers he worked with during that summer commented on what a wonderful performer he was and how much they admired his talent.”

Mr. Clark told Mr. Mauney that, “Los Angeles and Hollywood were at the top of places that he simply loved. From my recent understanding he had spent most of his adult years in LA running after the dream of singing and acting. Emory was an individual whom you remembered for their big smile and beautiful vocal talent. He was a very warm-spirited guy that easily got along with everyone and simply loved being on stage and performing for others. Everyone that I have spoken to in the past week since his passing regret that his life ended so suddenly and especially since he was alone. He was too nice and talented of a person to be taken away at 47 years old and will dearly be missed.”

Mr. Mauney then told of a synchronistic encounter he had the night of his notification of Mr. Clark’s death.

While he, “learned last week about Emory's death through a friend of mine in Florida and later… that evening was chatting online with [Wehoan] Helaine Depp who she told me that she had not heard of the death of Emory but was aware of the location in which Emory's body was found since it was mere blocks from her home.” That led to his coming forward to WeHo News to relate his acquaintance with Emory Clark.

He went on in a “there but for the grace of god go I” vein. “The ironic part was later that same evening that I spoke with Helaine, I had gone to the grocery store at around 10 pm and nearly hit a homeless man in the parking lot upon leaving the shopping complex… He literally came out of nowhere. It was almost like an omen. I honestly have never seen a transient in this exact location that I currently live – he seemed literally out of place.

As soon as I returned home and logged back on the internet, I had a message from Helaine that she had contacted WeHo News and your publication was interested in some follow-up on Emory. The entire ordeal had gone full circle. I honestly do believe that man in the parking lot was a sign from a greater dimension… I guess if one does believe in angels or spirit guides, that man in the parking lot was one of Emory's… or perhaps it was one of mine. There is magic in this world…”

Rest in peace Emory Clark III.