The King Of Cassiar
On most days Jerry Dzikowicz hung out on the median at the corner of Hastings and Cassiar, wearing his bright fluorescent safety vest and waving at passing cars. To some he was known as The King of Cassiar, to others simply the nut that waved at drivers. He had his own page on Facebook and Mike McCardell did a couple of his short stories about Jerry but didn’t offer too much information as to where he was from and why he stood on Cassiar waving at cars.
Jerry died of stomach cancer on March 11, 2010.
According to a story by Pete McMartin in Saturday’s Vancouver Sun, Jerry had a checkered past, a girlfriend of three years and was estranged from his two sons and six grandchildren. His girlfriend, Michelle Stitchman, says Jerry regarded his time on the Cassiar median as his job and collected a variety of donations from drivers (all unsolicited) along with government assistance and Canada Pension Plan early disability payments. His total monthly income was slightly below $900 and he appreciated the supplementary gifts and money from the drivers. In fact his accomodation was the result of a businesswoman who “adored” Jerry. She pulled some strings and got Jerry and his girlfriend placed in a quality, low cost apartment building in the Downtown Eastside. Even his obituary, which ran in both The Vancouver Sun and The Province and online, was paid for by one of Jerry’s admirers.
Jerry’s problems began in the mid 60’s when he was involved in a horrific car accident. After working a long stretch for over 36 hours straight, he drove his car into a telephone pole, was thrown through the windshield and nearly decapitated. As a result of his injuries he had a steel plate inserted in the top of his head. After his accident Jerry changed, became unreliable and slowly faded from his children’s lives. He did three years in Manitoba’s Stony Mountain prison for fraud in the early 1970’s which was the result of falsifying credit cards.
His two sons live in Winnipeg, Manitoba and were unaware of their father’s death until they were contacted by Vancouver Sun reporter Pete McMartin. Jayson and Jeffrey Dzikowicz didn’t see much of their father after his stint in prison and both became solid citizens (Jayson played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers) and gave Jerry six grandchildren which he never saw. They knew little about their father’s life other than bits and pieces of information from family and friends. Both had not spoken to their father in years.
And in the end, Jerry Dzikowicz ends up with a full page story in The Vancouver Sun, multiple print and online obituaries and another story by Mike McCardell on Global news. Not bad for an unemployed guy that stood on a median waving at cars.
I should be so lucky.
A celebration of Gerry’s life will be held at Glenhaven Memorial Chapel, 1835 East Hastings, Vancouver, BC on Friday, March 26, 2010 at 3:00 p.m.
I heard Jerry had died, but I didn’t realize what the story was. It’s amazing how everyone knew who he was, always smiling and waving on his corner. Thanks for sharing.
I knew the man during his wild days out of Winnipeg and had the pleasure of being arrested with him once in Toronto. I’m glad he ended up making people happy. I often look up old criminal pals to see what’s become of them since I left that life behind. Sad news but happy news if you knew how we lived back then. We once were glowestick kings!
RIP Jake “The Snake” Dzikowicz