Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Reeves’ death a suicide; friends plan candlelight vigil

Posted by on November 8th, 2012 at 9:23 am

Street performer on Hawthorne-2.jpg

Kirk Reeves, shown here at his usual spot on the Hawthorne Bridge in 2008, was impossible to miss.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

We have a sad update to share about street performer Kirk Reeves, a man who died earlier this week and whom many of us knew and appreciated for his presence on the Hawthorne Bridge.

The Oregon State Medical Examiner has just released a statement saying his body was discovered on Sunday at Bybee Lake in North Portland and the cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. As The Oregonian reported yesterday, Reeves, 56, suffered from depression and he told friends he was suicidal.

For years, Reeves sat in the same spot on the western end of the bridge, passing out trinkets to kids, playing his trumpet, tossing around a huge Hoberman sphere, and sharing his broad smile with everyone that passed by.

Reeves’ death — and his life — touched many Portlanders. Your comments and remembrances of him have poured in both here on the Front Page, on Twitter, and on a “Remembering Kirk” Facebook page that has been set up.

One of his friends contacted me yesterday to share details of a candlelight vigil that will be held for Reeves on Sunday, November 18th at 4:00 pm in Waterfront Park just below the Hawthorne Bridge (event details on Facebook).

Reeves was a fixture on the streetscape, a welcome part of the colorful fabric of Portland. His presence will be missed. Some of you have urged City Hall to consider a plaque or some other commemoration of his life. Perhaps Mayor Adams will see this as something fit to take on in his final weeks in office.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Granpa November 8, 2012 at 10:44 am

    RIP tortured soul

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Sunny November 8, 2012 at 11:42 am

    He seemed so happy

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Daniel R. Miller November 8, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Sorry to hear it, just remember you never know what might be going on inside someone, let’s all be compassionate no matter what…
    RIP Kirk, a memorial would be a good and appropriate thing, considering his many years of enlivening service to Portland…

    Recommended Thumb up 10

  • A.K. November 8, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Aw man, that is such a bummer! I used to see that guy all the time when I worked downtown and when I’d bike through. Latest was just a few weeks ago.

    I hope he is in a better place now.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • deborah November 8, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    I sure wish i would have stopped all the times I rode by him to tell him how no matter the day or mood I was in he always made me smile.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

  • whyat November 8, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    It’s so terrible that someone who brought so much joy to others was hurting so bad inside. Just awful.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob November 8, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Suicide is tough. Years back, as he played, I hung out with him a few times. It’s true that he generally conveyed an upbeat, optimistic nature, but I think life was quite difficult for him. Many people are not well equipped to deal with that situation.

    Where his prowess as a musician and trumpet players was less than sterling, his warmth and friendliness wasn’t. I think, sitting at his traffic outposts, doing something simple and lighthearted, he brightened many people’s work weary days. That’s an example to remember.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Dave Miller November 8, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Well said wsbob. I saw him countless times at his spot, but this summer he got in a long line at the post office behind me. He was wearing his white tuxedo and had a package in his hands. When my 6 year old son noticed him, Kirk bent down and genty asked me if it was ok to do a magic trick for him. I said yes, and he proceded with a little routine with coins that ended with a giant oversized coin being pulled out of my son’s ear. I was surprised that he had his props all ready to go on the spot. My son was delighted. Kirk hesitated for a second and then tore open the package he was planning to mail and handed its contents to my son. It was a DVD of a cable access tv show Kirk apparently made. I told him it wasn’t necessary, but he insisted and said that he could go home and get another one to mail. With that, he walked away.

    I’m so sorry you were hurting inside Kirk. Thank you for the warm moment of kindness and delight you shared with my son and me.

    Recommended Thumb up 11

  • Rol November 8, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Well that just adds an extra note of hopelessness to the whole thing now doesn’t it?

    I’ve been checking out the seriously copious amounts of coverage of this elsewhere. They’re all crawling out of the woodwork to talk about Kirk Reeves. Funny, since he probably could’ve used some help from some of those people while he was alive. (But the thing is, who would even think such a generous & seemingly happy person needed help?)

    One outlet went to the trouble of interviewing his roommates & friends. The picture I got is that he was depressed about three things…
    1) health problems — I can totally relate… getting older and accumulating annoyances and hindrances that will probably not only be permanent, but get worse, for the rest of your life.
    2) people being jerks to him out there. So, I guess we need to congratulate those A-holes.
    3) not being a success in show-biz. Well I beg to differ.

    Seems like he just kept giving until he had nothing left, and then finally said “Ahh, the hell with it.” I suppose I approve! Though he’s probably watching & feeling a bit disappointed with himself now that he can see all this outpouring of love & gratitude from everybody.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • wsbob November 8, 2012 at 10:57 pm

      When I posted earlier today, I hadn’t read the O stories about Reeves passing. Beaven’s story was good, and told a good bit about Reeve’s life, his achievements and disappointments, that I wasn’t aware of. Quite a number of comments to the story were thoughtful and considerate.

      In this busy world, it sometimes can be very easy to take for granted that someone else is doing better than they actually are. I was glad to read that there were people that recognized his worth, such as those who became his roommates, and did actively help him when he needed help.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Rol November 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Oh lordy, look what I just found. KATU in perfect form! (two years ago, but still) And just the other day I was LOL’ing at this BikePortland comment.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Biking Viking November 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Kirk, Sorry to see you go. It was nice to get a free smile every afternoon before crossing the H bridge. Like others, I now wish I had taken the time to stop and say ‘Thank you.”


    Recommended Thumb up 0