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Memorial service for 'Wild Bill,' local homeless man, planned

November 03, 2011|By Daniel Siegal daniel.siegal@latimes.com

Local homeless man, William “Wild Bill” Pluma Barrios left an impact on La Cañada Flintridge during the years he was seen around town, and the community hasn’t forgotten about him after his death earlier this month.

Barrios, who lived in the Hahamonga Watershed Park, was 54 when he died. He was known around town as a colorful character, but was also known to local law enforcement for public drunkenness and occasionally other disruptive behavior, said Sgt. Debra Herman of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station.

On a Facebook Page and in the comments section of a Patch article on his death, La Cañadans have been reminiscing about their encounters with Barrios, especially youth who encountered him in the park or around Foothill Boulevard.

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Claudia Zentmyer, however, wants to take these memorials offline, and is tentatively planning to hold a memorial service at Hahamonga Watershed Park on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 1:30 p.m.

“I knew him slightly, just over the years, and he was a part of our community, and really wanted to honor him,” said Zentmyer.  “We were just going to invite anyone in the community and have a time for people to say a few memories.”

Zentmyer said that she, along with some friends from the La Cañada Presbyterian Church, had planned the memorial service when they were told by police that no family had been reached after Barrios’ death.

When Barrios’ brother, Erik Chavez, came forward to Patch, Zentmyer said she was unsure as to whether the memorial would proceed as planned. She said she had plans to speak with Chavez later today to determine what the family’s wishes were about the memorial service.

 “Before I knew there was family, I felt like… people needed a place to come together as a community and say, ‘This person was a part of our community and we remember him,’” said Zentmyer.

Zentmyer said that plans for the service, one way or the other, should be finalized Friday. Either way, the community’s reaction to Barrios’ death has been something to see, said Zentmyer.

Zentmyer said she wasn’t sure why Barrios’ death had struck such a chord in the community, but that he definitely made an impact on La Cañadans who met him.

“I think people had a sense of responsibility for him, but also of him touching their lives in some way,” said Zentmyer. “He actually did bless me a couple times, I mean literally, when I gave him food.”

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