Miami Beach Street Artist Found Dead Outside South Beach Bank

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Story told by Volunteer, Georgia Anderson.

Lucinda Ann Reilly, 48, was found in front of the Wells Fargo Branch at Lincoln Road and Alton Road at around 9:45 pm Sunday, according to the police report.  Two homeless men who knew her found her.  One of the men had seen her lie down there late that morning.  He noticed that she had not moved when he passed by at night.  She was pronounced dead on the scene by fire officials.  Investigators have not determined the cause of death.

—The Miami Herald

“Hi, I’m Lucinda and I am an artist!”

That was my introduction to this remarkable young woman who appeared at Resurrection House for a shower 16 years ago.  She quickly proved her point by opening a portfolio brimming with color and design.  Each piece reflected Lucinda’s creative, happy, fun personality and our friendship formed in an instant.

Every week we’d meet at Pastry Art for coffee and bit by bit her story unfolded.  Born in New York City, she never knew her father.  When she was four years old her mother died in a car accident and she moved to her maternal grandparents in Kentucky.  She was introduced to alcohol as a child and by age 11 was addicted.

Talented and determined, she attended the University of Louisville and earned a degree in Graphic Design/Drawing.  Later she married and had two little boys.  The family moved to Florida where she worked as a multimedia artist.  Lucinda’s life was good until her husband suffered a heart attack and died at a very early age.

It was then her alcohol demons made a return.  Her sons were sent to live with their grandmother in Louisville.  She lost her job and was soon living on the street, trying to make a living from the sale of her art.  And that was when we met at Resurrection House.  She confided, “Wild Women Never Get the Blues” was the theme of one of her paintings and the formula for her life.  She greeted every day with s smile, determined to be an artist.

“Lucinda, you have to get a job!” I would tell her, concerned about her life on the street.  “I have a job!” she’d reply with a smile.

And she did, but not one to produce enough income to afford housing.  I worried so much about her being homeless.  She often called at 10 pm to tell me she was safe and sound, sleeping in the life guard stand on Siesta Beach.

One of her finest moments came when she was asked to paint the mural on the wall of the children’s play area at Resurrection House.  I watched her each day from the check-in desk and marveled at her talent and joy.

It become more and more apparent that she had no outlet for her art in Sarasota.  When she tried to sell on the street she was told to “move on!”  Renting a booth at the Miami Flea 

Market became her goal and she started to explore moving to Miami Beach.  Ever committed to her art, she saved her money and off she went!

For a while things worked well.  She was able to get an apartment and lead a normal, happy life.  But the demons returned and a downward spiral set in.  Soon she was back on the street, losing weight and barely getting by each day..

I talked to her almost daily and begged her to return to Sarasota where Resurrection House would help her.

“I’m afraid you are going to die while I’m gone,” I told her by phone as I was preparing to leave the country on a trip.

“Do not worry about me,” she said in her calm, spiritual way.  “God is riding around on my shoulder taking total care of me.”

Three days into my trip I received the tragic news that she had died on the street in Miami.

I loved my dear friend Lucinda Anne Reilly!  She made my world and everyone else’s a much brighter, happier place.  I think of her every time I go to work at Resurrection House.  I see her beautiful mural and remember one of her favorite quotations by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air.”

Thank you, Lucinda for all the beauty you shared.  You will be remembered always!

Resurrection House, Inc.
507 Kumquat Court
Sarasota, FL 34236


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Resurrection House, Inc., a day resource center for homeless of Sarasota County

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