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Originally published February 23, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified February 23, 2008 at 12:16 AM

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Aurora Ave.'s "Maverick Man" missed

For the past couple of days, they've been pulling into the Schuck's Auto Supply parking lot in Shoreline to pay their respects — all...

Seattle Times staff reporter

For the past couple of days, they've been pulling into the Schuck's Auto Supply parking lot in Shoreline to pay their respects — all those people who, for some 20 years, felt Jack Bradley was part of their lives.

They knew him as the Maverick Man, the homeless man who lived in a beat-up, early-1970s blue Ford Maverick.

The car still is in the Schuck's parking lot, now with at least two dozen bouquets and arrangements on top and around it. There are cards and letters with more than 100 signatures, taped so they won't blow away in the wind.

But the Maverick Man is gone. He died Tuesday, Feb. 19, at Northwest Hospital from a stroke. He was 58.

And something has happened in this community that knew Bradley as the quiet, unassuming man who made his haunt this shopping area at Aurora Avenue North and North 182nd Street.

For those commuting to and from work, for the moms shopping at the Fred Meyer, for the patrons at the Jack in the Box, the Maverick Man was a presence.

They were used to seeing him.

They may have never talked to the Maverick Man, but, somehow, he inched into their emotions.

On Friday afternoon, Lillian Fanning was one of those gathering around the old car. Many talked about their guilt.

"I should have done more for him," Fanning said. "But he didn't want anything."

Bradley spent a week in the hospital before he died. He had been taken there by medics from the Shoreline Fire Department after he collapsed at the shopping area.

"Everybody thinks it's kind of their fault," said Richard Hodgert, another who felt compelled to pay respects at the car Friday.

Hodgert kept thinking that, surely, people like him could have done something more.

But Melanie Granfors, spokeswoman for the Shoreline Fire Department, said she once felt the same way.

She said she had tried, like others, to help the Maverick Man.

He stayed in his car.

"He was kind of a simple guy with some mental issues," Granfors said.

She said the Maverick Man was not destitute and that he had told her he received Social Security money. He told her he could have gotten emergency housing but that would have meant moving away from his universe at 182nd and Aurora, she said.

On Friday afternoon, there was melancholy at the shopping area.

Dave Alvarez is one of the managers at the Fred Meyer there. He placed a ceramic guardian angel on top of the Ford Maverick. Some of his employees brought flowers.

Alvarez also had gotten used to Bradley, who shopped at the store and cleaned up and shaved in the men's restroom.

"He never made a mess, always cleaned up after himself," Alvarez said.

Those paying their respects kept asking if there would be a funeral service for the Maverick Man.

It turned out he did have family.

Bradley had been married some 40 years ago, and had a son, also named Jack Bradley, who is 39 and lives in Seattle.

The son declined to talk much about his relationship with his father; they last talked about five years ago.

"I offered him help. He said, 'No, thank you.' He wasn't interested," Bradley said.

Jack Bradley said he hasn't decided what services, if any, will be held for his dad.

Bradley said if one is held, he will leave a notice at the Ford Maverick and at the stores his father frequented.

Meanwhile, the flowers and notes keep getting placed at the old car, which, inside, has blankets, empty plastic water jugs, and newspapers.

A note taped to the car read:

"It's amazing how much you can be a part of someone's life, the impact you have, without having said a word.

"I will truly miss you. I looked forward to seeing you on my ride in the morning, and when I came home at night."

Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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