I didn't know Mr. Smith personally, but according to the News & Record article about him, he had become a tireless advocate for the homeless after himself enduring that state for five years.
Judging by the comments from some in the community who work with or advocate for the homeless, Mr. Smith was apparently a well-known figure who wasn't afraid to speak up with ideas on how to help the homeless. No photo accompanied the article, but I wouldn't be too surprised to find out that perhaps I'd passed him on the streets several times during those heady days when I thought I was doing well.
Mr. Smith is gone now, and he got what he deserved.
("What?! How horrible! What a terrible thing to say! He's lost his mind!")
Ah, but let me finish...
Mr. Smith deserved to escape the grip of homelessness with his wits and most of his health intact*.
He deserved to become a loud voice on behalf of those who traditionally have no voice because of that experience.
He deserved to learn from that experience and use that knowledge to pave a way for others while becoming a better, stronger person for it.
He deserved to gain the attention and respect of those on the front lines of the fight against homelessness.
He deserved to have his thoughts and ideas on fighting homelessness heard
And he deserved to be remembered for his efforts long after he himself had passed on.
Done and done.
By all accounts he got what he deserved, and more. Because he got his just desserts, Mr. Smith forced open a door that I and others in my situation can simply walk through.
So requiescat in pace, Mr. Smith. I daresay your efforts on our behalf were not in vain. Would that I could prick the social conscience with half as much aplomb as you did. If nothing else, you've given me a grain of hope: if you could escape this woeful state, so can I.
*I say "most" because Mr. Smith is no longer with us due to having succumbed to Amylotropic Lateral Sclerosis, otherwise known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease".