Neil Harris Jr., the Long Island man who lived the last years of his life in Riverside Park, will have a new memorial service on Nov. 4 after a local journalist discovered his real name and told his family.
Harris was known to many locals as Stephen. He spent his days on benches in the park, including one at 75th Street. When he died last year, the city could not identify him, and he was buried on Hart Island, the city potter’s field. Locals held a memorial service for the man and dedicated a bench in Riverside Park to him.
Journalist Jessica Brockington, however, discovered his identity in a missing person’s database, and painstakingly retraced his life. She connected with Harris’ mother Susan Hurlburt, who had been searching for her son for years. We wrote about that effort here.
The family told Jessica they were deeply grateful for her work and the community’s support, and they even reached out in our comments section. They will be present for a new memorial service. It will be held on November 4 at 3 p.m. at The Christian Community Church at 309 West 74th Street.
Thanks to Gretchen for the photo.