Ceaser Hunter, a Real Change vendor for 19 years, recently passed away at the age of 62. He was known to the staff, volunteers and fellow vendors here as a happy and helpful person.
“Right when he’d walk in, we would already be smiling,” Vendor Case Manager Ainsley Meyer said.
Ceaser was known as kindhearted and a jokester. He liked to come up to the sales desk and sing his badge number, along with various other numbers, which always stopped the Real Change staffers or volunteers at the sales desk in their tracks and made them laugh. He, clearly, had not simply said the numbers on his badge.
“He would always smile when he came in. And he was sweet and kind, so you didn’t realize — then he’d lean in and start singing the numbers!” Managing Director Shelley Dooley said.
He would also come ready with a joke. He even liked to play around with the cat that used to be in the office.
“He always brought a lot of joy and humor to the Vendor Center,” Meyer said.
Ceaser was born and raised in Mississippi. “He came up here for a job and never went back [to live],” Ceaser’s life partner, Barbara, said. “He would go and visit, but he would always come back.”
Ceaser worked in construction in Seattle until he wasn’t able to. Then a vendor introduced Ceasar to Real Change, and Ceaser loved selling the newspaper.
Also in Seattle, Ceaser met Barbara, who remains a Real Change vendor. They were together for 15 years.
“He tried to help everybody when he could,” Barbara said.
Barbara and Ceaser would come to the Vendor Center early to do chores and help with the paper delivery off the truck. “He liked to come down there and worry y’all,” she lovingly recalled.
Barbara and he often sold papers together, too, competing to get customers’ attention.
Ceaser had his characteristic rap: “You ready for the paper? Get one ... !”
As Barbara put it, “He’d make a little joke out of it with each sale. And I’d be getting on him — ‘you can’t be doing that!’ And he’d say, ‘I got to make them laugh, because when I sell, I want to put a smile on their face!’ They liked him – they would go to him before they’d go to me.”
Ceaser didn’t have a regular selling spot, though. He sold “everywhere” — he liked to walk down the street hawking the paper, calling out to people. He would wander the streets, making his selling gig a way to range the city. He never was one of the top vendors in sales — he made selling a source of pleasure rather than treating it as a job.
At his or Barbara’s apartment, Ceaser liked to play games — dominoes or cards in particular. Of course, as the good-humored man Barbara knew, “He’d cheat me at it.
“We used to play for pennies, to make it interesting. I’d be telling him, ‘you know you’re stacking the deck.’ She said he was just messing with her, “just a fun game; something to do when you’ve got nothing to do.
“He’d always give my pennies back to me.”
Barbara and Ceaser spent most of their time together, and when she lost him this summer, “I was at a loss without him — basically, when you’d see him, you’d see me.”
He would often take her grandson to the park; he liked children and missed his own. Ceaser also liked to listen to music. “He loved all kinds of music,” Barbara said. And his tastes were “universal;” Barbara said he didn’t limit himself to repeating songs or to any one genre.
Ceaser is survived by a 19-year-old daughter and a son in his mid-20s; by his partner Barbara and her grandson; and by Real Change staff, vendors, volunteers and customers, who all will certainly miss him.
Read more of the Aug. 19-25, 2020 issue.