The Jefferson City area lost one of its more beloved, though slightly eccentric, individuals this past week when Eugene N. "Boulevard Bob" Long died Wednesday at his home.
Long, 77, was a frequent sight on Jefferson City thoroughfares as he scooted around on various modes of transportation - bikes, scooters, mopeds - in his signature American flag helmet.
A memorial for Long is set for 7 p.m. Monday at the Noren Access on the Missouri River. The public is invited to attend.
His friendly demeanor endeared him to many, although he was generally known to be a loner. But he always returned other drivers' friendly waves and salutations.
Although he didn't have any children of his own, the outpouring of support this week surprised his remaining family members.
Amy Long, his niece, said her uncle definitely marched to the beat of a different drummer. Her memories of him are few, but those she has are fond.
"We'd always see him bebopping around town on his scooter with his American flag helmet," she said. "And he loved turquoise jewelry."
In fact, he seemed to have loved all kinds of jewelry. He frequently wore numerous watches, rings and a large turquoise cross. His unusual fashion sense didn't stop there: her uncle also favored fringed suede jackets, boots and cowboy hats.
Recollections of Eugene Long filled up Facebook this week as dozens of acquaintances remarked about and wrote tributes of the man they mainly knew as "Boulevard Bob."
"He touched so many lives," Amy Long said. "More people knew him than we ever could have imagined. We were a little surprised. It's been a strange turn of events."
Amy Long said she did not remember her uncle ever having a job, although others recall that he may have delivered the Ad Sheet at one point. He lived in a trailer in Callaway County.
Jo Ann and Bob Pierce served as caretakers for Long as he aged.
Jo Ann Pierce said she and her husband met him about 15 years ago and took care of him on and off over the years.
Several years ago he was living in Villa Marie Skilled Nursing when the couple came by to visit. He asked them to take him for a drive.
"He refused to go back. That's, more or less, how we hooked up with him," she said. "We kind of adopted him. He needed a friend."
Pierce said Long was always friendly, goodnatured and upbeat.
"He was concerned about other people," she said.
She noted he did not have a driver's license. He was stopped in Jefferson City about three years ago and vowed "never to come to Jefferson City again."
"I think the authorities in Holts Summit knew he didn't have a license, but they didn't do anything about it," she added.
Pierce said he was fine when she checked on him Tuesday evening, but by Wednesday he was gone. He was discovered in his trailer when she asked his landlord to check on him.
Nancy Pringer, 56, of Jefferson City, was one of the people on Facebook who defended Eugene Long's unusual ways. She remembers, as a teenager learning to drive, encountering Long on his moped.
"We'd get behind him. He'd be putting along on his moped at 10 mph, holding up traffic. We saw him there every day. People would stop and wave. And he would wave back."
She added: "He was kind of a funny guy. But there are a lot of funny characters in Jefferson City."
Patty Roderick of Jefferson City remembers the time a group of motorcyclists gathered for a Toys for Tots parade down High Street.
"Boulevard Bob was right in front on his little scooter," she said.
And another time he came in and purchased a pair of western boots from an antique booth Roderick was operating on the city's southside.
Joe Owens, 37, said - like many people - he'd only experienced chance encounters with Eugene Long. But those experiences piqued his interest.
In memory of Long, Owens made a graphic showing Long's helmet and published it on Facebook.
Owens said he liked Long's independent spirit and has enjoyed seeing others post their memories of this unusual and interesting man.
"I always thought he was unique and stood out in a conservative town," he said.