Bea Gaddy. What more needs to be said? Never heard of her? Well, she’s been getting national headlines for about a decade now, but let me clue you in. Bea Gaddy was the heart and soul of a city known for it’s heart. She was a former homeless person who took her experiences on the streets and said “no more”. In the 80s she started a fledgeling organisation to feed the homeless. By 1990 she made the bold proclamamtion that she would feed 10,000 people on Thanksgiving. Cynics laughed. Guess what? She did it. She did it and took it as only a starting point. By the end of the century, tens of thousands of hungy people were being fed by this saint. She was rehabilitating run down houses in the city too, giving people a second chance. In 1994, there was serious concern over how the books were being managed. She had attracted large ammounts of money through donations, but there were questions as to how it was being used. The question " How can this uneducated nigger woman manage money?" was heard more than once. Bea met the challenge head on and cleaned up the finances, always with an eye to helping others. Bea Gaddy was no fool. She got her GED and also a higher degree through a correspondence course in 1977. Sometimes the outpouring of support overwealmed her resourses, but never for long. Bea always bounced back. In 1999, she was elected to a city councel seat. How could we not vote for the angel of East Baltimore? It was somewhat bittersweet, because she had been diagnosed with breast cancer the year before. Ultimately, it would kill her. She said in her autobiography “Ironically, the one life I neglected was my own. For well over a decade I felt lumps in my breast but didn’t do anything about it”. It’s sad when someone has so much time for others that she neglects herself. What was Bea’s response? What do you think? She spent the last years of her life in a crusade to get poor women mamograms and treatement. There have been others like Bea, Calcutta had Mother Teresa, but Bea was ours. There is at least one doper who will tell you of the time Bea gave her a cot in her own home for a few nights. Bea slept 3 cots over. It helped this doper launch herself into a new life.
What would Bea say about this eulogy? That I know with conviction. She’d look at me from underneith her salt and pepper hair ( more salt, this last year ), that “give 'em hell” look in her eyes, and say " That’s very nice. Now go feed someone." God bless her.
Bea Gaddy 1933-2001. The world is better for her presence. Now, what will YOU do?