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Goodbye, Pigeon Man

By Jocelyn Geboy in News on Dec 19, 2007 9:16PM


Sad news today: Joseph Zeman, the "pigeon man of Lincoln Square," was killed yesterday when he was struck by a car on the Far North Side. The driver was a 68-year-old who didn't see Zeman as he made a right leaving a parking lot.

The 77-year-old was easy to spot at the corner of Lawrence and Western, where he would sit for hours on a fire hydrant, feeding a large group of pigeons that would crowd around him and perch all over his body. Zeman was pronounced dead at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston at 3:21 p.m, and he was found with a laminated copy of the article the Trib did on him in 2004.

An epileptic who was treated poorly as a child by his family, Zeman learned early on "not to say nothing, keep to myself, just so I can't be wrong anymore." He first formed a relationship with the pigeons during the 47 years he ran a newsstand at the corner of LaSalle and Division. He would feed them, and over time, the pigeons came to trust him. He moved up to the hydrant in 1997 when he sold the newsstand.

However you feel about pigeons, it's hard not to be moved by Zeman's philosophy, which he shared in his Trib profile: "I'm really advertising to the public how easy it is to be good without an attitude; it's just as easy to show decency as it is to hate today."

"Pigeon Man" via jdlinkvision.