Timothy Lloyd, a regular at the Oxford and the Union Gospel Mission, known as Little Tim for his small stature and jovial manner and, more recently, as Tim Under the Bridge for his preferred sleeping place, died of hypothermia inside the Northside footbridge in the early morning hours of Nov. 6. He was 61.
A fellow UGM client discovered Lloyd about 6:30 a.m., after the city’s first snowstorm this season, and informed mission staff, who were preparing breakfast at the adjacent day center for the homeless. Facility director Eric Wood found a pulseless Lloyd lying uncovered on the pavement next to his sleeping bag and blankets. He was taken by ambulance to St. Patrick Hospital and pronounced dead shortly after.
“It looked like he had fallen asleep before he had covered up,” Wood says.
Lloyd’s death occurred five days before UGM was scheduled to open its overnight warming shelter for the winter months, and while he was trying to
secure housing through the city’s expedited “coordinated entry system” for homeless residents. Lloyd had recently obtained a housing voucher and could have been placed as early as Nov. 10, UGM Director of Outreach April Seat says.
Lloyd, like many of the people who line up for breakfast or lunch at the day center, would be recognizable to Missoulians who spend time downtown. Homeless for many years, Lloyd panhandled and sometimes slept on the sidewalks and drank at the Ox.
Lloyd was an alcoholic and occasionally had to take meals outside of the center because of it, but friends and UGM staff say the condition didn’t define him.
“He was just kind of a happy-go-lucky character,” Wood says.
Some of Lloyd’s close friends learned of his death on Tuesday after arriving at the center to eat. Jerry Wright says he met Lloyd shortly after he himself became homeless in January 2014. They spent many nights downtown together sleeping in a doorway across from the Oxford.
“I didn’t know anybody who didn’t like him,” Wright says. “I’ve never seen him have an argument with anyone. Except me—we used to go round and round.”
Wright offers glimpses of their friendship as he eats a hamburger on an outdoor park bench, grinning as he describes their adventures, which included panhandling and drinking, but also fishing up Ninemile when Wright was living out of his truck.
The misadventures come to mind first, particularly the time the pair tried to go camping near Kreis Pond one January. Wright says his truck got stuck in the snow, forcing him to hike back to the Ninemile ranger station for help, and he slipped on ice and broke his arm. Lloyd, who decided to stay behind with the beer and cigarettes in the truck, never came looking for him, Wright recalls, smiling.
UGM staff remember Lloyd with similar humor. Terri “Shortround” Wood recalls a time she asked Lloyd for a hug after he’d showered for the first time in months, and the time she caught him sipping beer along the outer fence on a hot summer day. She asked Lloyd if the beer was cold, and when he replied that it was, she decided to take a sip herself.
It’s illegal to sleep inside the pedestrian bridge, and Wood says that city staff had confiscated a set of Lloyd’s blankets left there a few days before he died (he was able to replace them).
Lloyd’s manner of death is a familiar one to UGM staff. The Woods list the names of other clients who’ve died in the past year, including one man they say was found under the Scott Street bridge last spring. Even as fellow clients were learning Tuesday of Lloyd’s passing, another of the man’s friends, Lionel Samuel, died in the hospital after a short illness.
“Every year we lose one or two, sometimes more,” Eric Wood says. “It’s a sad commentary on life that walking down the street, they’re not particularly noticed unless they’re in the way.”
Last year, UGM started using its day center as a winter warming shelter, opening it at 11 p.m. on nights when the temperature dropped below 11 degrees. The organization decided to expand the program this year to seven days a week, but planned to open it on Nov. 11, in keeping with the 11s theme, executive director Don Evans says. Winter weather arrived a week earlier than expected, with temperatures in the mid-20s on the early morning of Nov. 6.
UGM opened the warming shelter the night after Lloyd was discovered, with the Woods staying overnight to watch over the 13 clients who showed up. Evans says UGM is looking for volunteers to help staff the shelter in the coming months.
As Wright tried to describe his friendship with Lloyd, he found himself momentarily at a loss.
“I wish he was here to tell you,” Wright said. “But then you wouldn’t be writing about it.”
A memorial for Lloyd and Samuel will be held Nov. 15 at the UGM Day Center, 506B Toole Avenue, at 2 p.m.