High school friends hold funeral for man who died of hypothermia - WRBL

High school friends hold funeral for man who died of hypothermia

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

High school friends of the homeless man who died of hypothermia last week got together to remember his life Friday. After hearing the news of his death, Baker High School Alumni felt called to help.

Paul Garner was 52 years old when he passed away in Columbus. He was alone, all of his family dead, but members of the Baker High School Alumni Association didn't want his life to go unrecognized.

"When I found out how they were going to bury him and where they were going to have to bury him, it was just not something I felt like Paul deserved," said Toni Wolfe, one of the organizers of the funeral.

The funeral was filled with old classmates and friends all sharing good memories of the man who was described as kind, intelligent, and friendly to everyone.

"He was as diverse as you could get before diversity was popular. He had every friend in the book and he loved everybody," said Joyce Dent-Fitzpatrick, one of the organizers of the funeral.

Friends said the man had fallen on hard times, struggling with alcohol right here in Columbus.

"I feel really bad because I probably passed Paul 100 times and didn't even know who he was. So I'm going to be a little more aware. I'm going to be a little bit more heightened with what's going on," said Dent-Fitzpatrick.

But despite the way he died, organizers of the home-going wanted him to know he wasn't alone.

"I just hope and pray that he knows how much he was truly loved and that he is not alone and that he didn't die without family because we're his family," said Wolfe.

The Baker High School Alumni Association raised more than $3,000 for the funeral and the money is still coming in. They'll be able to buy Garner a headstone with the additional funds.

Naomi Keitt

Naomi Keitt focuses on education reporting for WRBL News 3. More>>

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