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'Kimba' Honored on Earth Day

April 22, 2009 — The late-afternoon wind made sweeping up the leaves around Mandela Circle nearly impossible Wednesday, but a water cooler filled with drinks, a few hours' worth of laughter and some reminiscing over old times made the task a little easier for family members and friends who came out for an Earth Day event in honor of Dale "Bakimba" Rogers.
By the time the clock struck 6 p.m., about five trash bags had accumulated on the sidewalk that Rogers, who passed away at the beginning of the month, had so painstakingly tried to keep clean for the past several years. And as the sunlight began to wane, more and more people began to fill the Pueblo parking lot, coming out either to lend a helping hand or simply to pass along a happy memory and pay their respects to their friend Kimba. (See "In Memoriam: Dale 'Bakimba' Rogers.")
"I brought him a piece of sugar cane, because you know how he liked cane," said Simone Smith, mother to Rogers' two grandsons, DeshanteI and Dekurmar Rogers Jr. "Today's his birthday, too, so you know we had to do something special."
A few tears were shed as the family worked side by side. But the afternoon was mostly filled with family jokes and an uplifting blend of conversation about love, life and all the little things that made Rogers so special in the eyes of his children, his grandchildren and even the community members who have only spoken to him once or twice. Then, as the wind continued to whip around the trees and the leaves rustled, the talk turned to, "You see, Kimba's here with us — he's here now."
"Hi, Daddy," Rogers' daughter, Damali, squealed as a portrait of her father was produced and set against the mahogany tree currently serving as the base of Rogers' memorial in Mandela Circle. Damali and other family members unearthed all kinds of treasures there throughout the afternoon — including one of Rogers' old brooms, a previously unseen note left by an old friend and some pocket change.
"Look, a dime," Damali squealed again after sweeping up the dirt around the memorial. "You know, Daddy has a water cooler filled with change that he found while sweeping up around here. He was always, always finding change."
Instead of taking it home, however, Damali left the change on the wall.
"Let someone who's really in need come along and find this," she said. "It's not much, but it's exactly what Daddy would do."
Next year, some family members said, a tree will be planted in Rogers' honor.
See Darrin Mortenson’s new personal blog on this story at leavingthewire.
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