Jerry Pryor, 73, eats a meal at a restaurant near Lakewood Village. Photo by Stephen Carr.

During his life, Jerry Pryor could often be seen around Lakewood Village pulling a wagon loaded with his earthly possessions and the tools he used as a self-appointed neighborhood cleaner-upper.

On Saturday, when friends gathered to mark Pryor’s recent passing, they filled his now-idle wagon with flowers.

Born in Long Beach in 1945, Pryor spent more than two decades living on the city’s streets, attracting friends and admirers with his quiet kindness and the work ethic that drove him to sweep, pick up trash and prune the bushes in the neighborhood where he lived. Pryor died Jan. 17 at age 78.

Jerry Pryor, 73, pulls his wagon during an early foggy morning on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Photo by Stephen Carr.

A crowd of about 40 people who had known Pryor, including several who moved mountains to get him medical care and a bed in an assisted living facility for his final years, honored their friend at a memorial Saturday at Lakewood Village Community Church.

Pryor was stubborn and wanted to do things his own way, said his nephew, Daniel Pryor – loved ones and even acquaintances offered to put a roof over his head, but not wanting to impose, he either turned them down or didn’t stay long.

But he had a big heart, was always thinking of his friends, and was grateful for the help he accepted.

Gloria Cordero, one of several people who spoke about Pryor at the memorial, said he’d clip out news articles to give her that related to her work. And after he died, among his belongings were about 100 index cards on which he had noted the date he received something (such as a tarp or a restaurant gift card) and who gave it to him.

“That smile Jerry had — he would see you and his eyes would light up,” Cordero said.

Jerry Pryor is pictured in 2020 outside Crofton Manor, an assisted living facility in Long Beach. Pryor was homeless and living on the streets for years near Lakewood Village; he died at 78. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Corliss Lee remembered enticing Pryor — whom she called “the most independent, stubborn man I’ve ever met” — to come to the DMV to get his ID by promising a shopping trip at Harbor Freight afterward.

Some stories friends shared about Pryor seemed to be almost as much about them, and how his kindness, humility, and even his stubbornness helped them find reservoirs of generosity and empathy within themselves.

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Daniel, Pryor’s nephew, said it was nice to see that although his uncle never married or had children and eked out a difficult existence on the streets, he wasn’t alone.

As to what he’ll remember most about Jerry, it’s “knowing that he touched a lot of folks,” Daniel Pryor said. “I’m not even sure that was his intent, it’s just what happened.”