Real Change vendor Robert Sawyer died from bladder cancer on Sunday, April 28. He was 73.
Sawyer became a Real Change vendor in 2002 after a life spent mining gold in various places including the Snoqualmie Pass and as a member of the Air Force. Gold mining was both his job and his hobby until the work dried up and he found Real Change.
He sold the paper near the Safeway grocery store near 23rd Avenue and East Madison Street.
Sawyer’s daughter, Lisa, is a longtime Real Change vendor herself. The pair reconnected after decades apart while selling Real Change. Sawyer realized his daughter was a fellow vendor when they both went to the office to get new badges in 2014, Lisa said.
After that, the pair got coffee every Wednesday before the new issue came in. Lisa ordered her traditional white chocolate mocha, Sawyer his blonde roast with sugar and cream.
“It’s hard to go to Starbucks now,” Lisa said.
One of Lisa’s fondest memories of her father was when the pair played catch in the backyard and other kids in the neighborhood joined in for an impromptu game of pick-up baseball.
Sawyer grew up in New Hampshire. For lack of a better option, he became a Patriots and Red Sox fan, although he took to the Mariners and Seahawks when he moved out to the West Coast.
He was a history buff who could drill a person on arcane pieces of trivia from the birthplace of founding father Benjamin Franklin to the location of the Hannah Duston monument.
Sawyer experienced homelessness for many years before a caseworker was able to connect him with a place in the early 2000s. He lived in the Seattle area for the better part of 40 years.
Sawyer is survived by his two ex-wives, three children, grandchildren and siblings.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC
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