Family members of William Baumann, 70, gathered this morning for a “moment of blessing" near the spot on Portland Avenue where the he was struck Monday by an apparent hit-and-run driver.
He was taken to the hospital and died the next day.
David Alger, executive director of Associated Ministries that serves Pierce County, presided over the 10-minute service. He and other ministers have performed the blessing about 250 times since 1998 in places where violence has claimed a life.
The purpose of the ceremony, he told the family, was to reclaim the place "as a place of life, community and hope."
The family gathered about 10 a.m. on the grass just inside the entrance to Pierce County Housing Authority’s deMark Apartments at 74th Street Court East and Portland Avenue where Baumann lived.
Baumann was returning on foot from a nearby store about 7 p.m. Monday when he was hit, according to family members who said they are still struggling with the tragedy. They asked that their names not be used. They said they still knew little about what happened.
Pierce County sheriff’s investigators, who consider the incident a possible hit and run, said they are still looking for the driver of the pickup truck that hit Baumann.
A few residents from the complex who knew Baumann also showed up for the blessing. They recalled a quiet man who loved to walk though he was a slow walker who took small steps. He enjoyed going to the nearby stores.
One resident who asked that his name not be used said he had warned Baumann not to cross the busy arterial at night.
"He was a really nice man," said Kathy Johnson, a resident. "I will miss him."
Another resident said Baumann was a "great guy. The real tragedy he would never have hurt anybody."
Alger brought along two of six blessing poles that are adorned with red ribbons with the names of those whose deaths have been blessed. Baumann’s ribbon had been added.
With a bowl of water, Alger stepped out into the middle left turn lane on Portland Avenue and sprinkled water on the street. A car came by but didn’t slow down.
One of Baumann’s sons said his father had been living at the deMark Apartments for about 18 months. A long time resident of Tacoma, he had worked for McFarland Cascade lumber timber in the Tacoma Tideflats as a plant manager.
"He had a big heart," his son said, "but he was really quiet. He wouldn’t accept help."
Alger told the family that the blessings usually involve younger people in their 20s and 30s who have been killed. Many of the deaths have been gang related but there have been vehicular homicides.
Alger said he has been at blessings where he was the only person there. Last week, he said 150 people attended the blessing at the spot where a young man was killed, he said.
Joining Alger at the Portland Avenue blessing was Pastor Dave Pflueger with the Independent Catholic Church of Christ the King in Tacoma.