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Artist captures stories of those homeless

Denton artist Ellen Frenkel worked as an assistant chef at Our Daily Bread from August to November of 2011. During that time, she met many people.

She became interested in wildflowers at the same time and recognized the similarities of the hidden qualities of wildflowers and the hidden details in the lives of those were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

She created a multi-panel piece that alternated views of Texas wildflowers with portraits of six people she had met and later interviewed at Our Daily Bread. The work hung at Trinity Presbyterian Church during the 2012 holiday season.

Here are the stories she gathered of some of those people:

Linda Reed was born in Armstrong, Okla., one of eight children, and has lived in Denton since 1968.

Linda worked for many years as a manager at 7-Eleven, then as assistant manager after a pregnancy leave. When her knees and back became arthritic, she shifted her career to the manufacturing of the safes that are used in the 7-Eleven stores.

She enjoys crossword puzzles, and is trying to learn embroidery. She enjoyed attending Cooper Creek Baptist Church, until the lack of transportation made attending impossible.

Linda has survived three separate cancers: first, a tumor on her neck, then her voice box (larynx) for which the radiation treatment was especially difficult, then lastly she has survived breast cancer.

She has also lost all her teeth, but is still a survivor. Linda hopes to live long enough to see her grandchildren finish school.

Robert Duwe is 84 years old and was born in Milwaukee. He has lived all over Texas, mostly in Rockport and Denton. He has two daughters in the area and two in Wisconsin.

When Robert was 5 years old, he contracted polio and spent a year and a half in a cast from his neck to his toes in the hospital separated from his family. In those days, hospitalized children did not receive special schooling, entertainment or support, so it was an extremely lonely time.

He got a degree in industrial engineering from the University of Wisconsin. Over the years, Robert worked and was able to open his own machine shop, providing parts for the oil industry, aircraft and government projects, spending five years going back and forth to Mexico, teaching computerized machining. He says he made a lot of money in his time, but “pissed it all away.”

He always enjoyed having a big boat and going salt-water fishing.

His latest car was totaled by a friend, so transportation is not easy. He’s blind in one eye, deaf in one ear and has survived cancer, but Robert says he has no regrets, that he’s had a good life. He would love to go to the coast to go fishing again.

Kenneth Townsend was born in Merced, Calif., and is one of nine siblings. He’s traveled all over — Michigan, Kentucky, Alabama, Carrolton, Dallas, Phoenix, Denver and Albuquerque.

He spent time in El Paso as a child and was a successful door-to-door salesman. Since then he has worked in construction, food service, grocery stores, in flooring installation, aircraft, HVAC and plumbing. He is currently working on developing a book reader and is trying to finalize a Small Business Administration loan for that purpose. He is also very interested in environmental studies, especially in turning waste materials into fuel. Kenneth has many hobbies: photography — especially of people — reading, writing and gambling. He also enjoys rugby and has played on Dallas and El Paso rugby clubs, traveling to Jamaica and many states in the process. Like many, he would like to be independently wealthy.

Kenneth would like to finish his degree in bio-medical engineering and then proceed to a degree in nephrology in order to help those with kidney disease. Kenneth is grateful for the help of Vision Ministries and Dr. Filippo Masciarelli at Our Daily Bread for their help and continues to try to manage the schizoaffective disorder that gives him trouble.

Postscript: Townsend died in late October.