Letter to the Editor: Tent to a Mansion: A lasting tribute to Brother Michael Irby

Photo of three men in suits standing in a community hall with a stage.

Michael Irby (center) with two of his fellow church members. Photo courtesy of a family friend.

I would like to personally thank Street Sense Media and Will Schick for the very professional handling and reporting on the untimely death of Brother Michael Irby.

Brother Irby departed this life on the morning of July 26 while asleep in his tent. Street Sense’s sensitivity and compassion in this matter did not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

In doing so, you contributed to an outpouring of love and support from various segments of the D.C. community rarely seen, though on full display at his memorial services. The Rev. Dr. James Coleman officiated.

Michael’s extended family included church and choir members, musicians, those living in various shelters, the homeless/tent community, social services personnel, professional workers, Union Station employees, friends, Metro police, and many more. The cross section of those present at one point prompted Pastor Coleman to state, “This is what a church should look like.” It was clear to see that Brother Irby had touched and influenced many lives.

Those in attendance were able to witness the fact that Mike never let the fact that he lived in a tent dictate his circumstances, zeal for life, nor curtail his caring, helping attitude. As the service unfolded, it was obvious that his infectious spirit was present.

If you needed a tent erected or one repaired, Mike was there. A warm blanket? No problem. He would go out of his way to retrieve one for you. A kind word of advice or encouragement and a needed smile, always laced with a sense of humor, were all parts of his repertoire.

His wit served him well, coupled with his personality and charm. He could readily defuse potential volatile situations when confronted. He had “street sense.”

As a street musician, when I travel throughout the DMV, I am still constantly reminded that he is missed, as he always travelled with me. I am showered with encouragement, condolences, concern, prayer, and support of all kinds.

Needless to say, you were my brother and best friend, a true “soldier” and a genuine “good” dude – you always had my back. You had a special “swag.” You also had class and compassion, but most of all, you had Christ in your soul.

Brother Irby may have temporarily resided in a small tent in this life but know that he has moved onto to that deluxe apartment in the sky. It’s called a “mansion.” It comes with all the amenities one’s heart could ever desire, and it will be your permanent residence from now on.

As for me, I’ll carry on. I thank the Lord daily for the time we were able to spend together, my Brother. I’ll see you when I got there. Peace and love.

Darryl Hines was a close friend of Mr. Irby and a District resident experiencing homelessness.

Issues |Death

Region |Washington DC

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