The homeless community of Long Beach’s Bixby Park mourned for the loss of one of its own on Thursday afternoon.
News of the sudden death of 54-year-old Laurie Lee Hall shocked those closest to her who gathered at one of the park’s shaded benches—not far from the grassy patch near the corner of Cherry Avenue and Broadway where Hall took her last breaths just a few hours before.
“She fell asleep and never woke up,” said Howard, another of the park’s homeless and a longtime friend of Hall.
According to Howard, she came back to the park to rest after pandhandling at a local Rite Aid.
After a while, another homeless man who was with her noticed that she was not breathing.
Officers responded to the park at about 2:10PM on Thursday, August 27, where they found Hall unresponsive, said Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) spokeswoman Nancy Pratt.
Personnel from the coroner’s office picked Hall up at about 4:30PM.
Authorities believe she died from natural causes, though an official autopsy has not been completed.
Hall had two daughters and one son, and had about four or five grandchildren, according to Long Beach resident Pam Patterson, who is not homeless but frequently walks her dog in Bixby Park and helps with Long Beach's homeless population. She knew Hall for more than 10 years—since before she was homeless, when problems with alcohol led her to the streets.
Her family was based in the Inland Empire, Patterson said.
Hall was homeless intermittenly for about nine years. She was married and divorced twice and had a history of being abused by lovers, both on and off the streets, added Patterson.
“That pretty much destroyed her trust in everyone and everything,” Patterson said.
Hall also had a history of alcohol abuse, but friends said she tried to seek help.
“She was trying to get clean, trying to get off the streets,” Howard said.
According to Howard, Hall was just 15 units shy of getting her bachelor’s degree. She had studied criminal law and once hoped to become a lawyer.
“She was very, very bright. She was super intelligent and as kind as the day is long,” Patterson said. “She would do anything for anybody.”
Above, left photo of Laurie Lee Hall courtesy of Humans of Long Beach.
Middle photo of Laurie Lee Hall's friends by Stephanie Rivera.
Bottom, right photo of a make-shift memorial near the site of Laurie Lee Hall's death by Asia Morris.