Homeless man dies outside Bayside LIRR station

William "Broadway Bill" Bateman was found dead on a park bench in front of the Bayside train station Friday. Photo by Steve Mosco
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A homeless man who neighbors said was a fixture around Bayside was found dead on a bench outside the Bayside railroad train station on 41st Avenue early Friday.

The man, identified as William Bateman, was spotted motionless on a bench at around 7 a.m., according to Ahmed Ifdikhar, who runs the newsstand at the train station.

“I saw him at around 5 a.m. and he was alive, I think. Then I saw he wasn’t moving, so I called the police,” Ifdikhar said. “I’ve seen him here for years. I never had a problem with him.”

No cause of death was known, but police said they do not suspect criminality and the investigation was ongoing.

Police brought Horace Brown, who had known Bateman for a number of years, to the scene to identify the body. Brown said he had lived with Bateman in Bayside for a while, but kicked him out when his drinking became a problem.

“He was a nice fella, but he was a drinker and he didn’t believe in showering, so my wife said he had to go,” said Brown, who added Bateman’s brother told him he had been in and out of the hospital with liver problems recently. “He was a loner. He just wanted to drink alone and watch the trains.”

Passers-by stopped by the small park adjacent to the train station to ask about the homeless man who had died. Frank Collins, said he was one of many residents in the neighborhood who would speak to Bateman on a regular basis.

“We knew him as Broadway Bill because he worked at an old lumber store in Bayside called Broadway Lumber,” said Collins. “He said he was planning to move to Alabama after Labor Day to live with his sister and try to quit drinking.”

Updated 2:54 pm, August 24, 2012
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Reader feedback

Zelda Walker Ross from Montgomery, Alabama says:
August 26, 2012

To; Editor
Times Ledger
Re: William “Broadway Bill” Bateman

Imagine the shock upon learning of the passing of a close family member. Imagine the hurt and the immediate concern for his mother that immediately flooded my heart. Imagine the feelings we experienced when a “visit home” that he was determined to make was obviously more important than any of us could have possibly realized. Imagine another call informing you of what I consider a most tasteless, insensitive article that contained a highly unnecessary photo was posted on several “hometown” publications as news. Was it news? Yes, someone’s love one had unfortunately passed. Was it of interest to some people of the Bayside area? Certainly, there were people who knew him and were genuinely touched by the cards life had dealt him and how his life was played out based on that hand. Imagine the disgust and hurt to see his unfortunate death documented with pictures that will forever be embedded in the minds of our family. The individual of whom I speak is my cousin, William Bateman. Some may have known him as “Broadway Bill” but he was Billy to us. Billy is a Son, a brother, a nephew, a cousin, an uncle and an in-law of many who love him. However, most important he was human; a creation of God. Allow me to take a moment to dispel a term that was used to describe him – “homeless”. There are many people who are tagged with this label that are not really homeless. Despite the offer of permanent residences they choose, for whatever reason, mentally, physically, or emotionally, to wander and reside on the streets of many of our country’s cities. Technically, Bill was not homeless. He had options to reside in many homes. Remember the relatives I mentioned? Unfortunately, he also had a disease. A disease that many do not recognize as one, but never-the-less, I do. That disease is alcoholism, a disease that millions fight on a daily basis. Many are able to achieve sobriety and maintain it, sadly many are not.
This was a fight that Bilyl was unable able to win. This disease caused him to make decisions that clearly were not in his best interest. This disease at times placed strains on relationships. This disease at times estranged him from loved ones. This disease played a huge part in his physical condition. Regardless of these flaws, he was a human. He has family that loves him and will miss him. He has a Mother that never gave up on her son. As late as the week of his passing she was doing what a good mother does- looking for help for her son. She will grieve his death as long as there is breath in her body. The angst of burying a child, no matter the age, is at times unbearable. Her faith in our God will sustain her and the love of her family and friends will support her. We will not allow the insensitivity of any publications diminish the love and memories we have for our Billy – “Broadway Bill”.
Again, I implore you to imagine receiving a phone call informing you of the loss of one of your family members. It doesn’t matter if they were imperfect – we all are. If your family member is blessed to have loving family, especially a Mother, imagine the hurt and grief that envelopes her entire body, mind and soul at the news. Imagine someone one informing you there is an article written about the death of your love one. Maybe your immediate reaction would be one of thanksgiving because you knew your relative suffered from a disease and of his choosing decided to live a life that made some consider him as "less than" and for a fleeting minute were grateful that his life was recognized by and mattered to someone other than family. Grateful… until you open the link to that article to be immediately starring at a silhouette of your deceased love one’s body, loosely draped with white linen. Imagine if you will, that photo was of you. Imagine your family having to see a silhouette of your deceased body in that manner. Imagine the pain, the hurt, disgust and disdain for the person responsible for it.
Where is your sense of responsibility to humanity? Do you have a moral compass? Does the fact that he lived a life that was of his choosing and deemed “homeless” by many give you authority to disrespect him, his family and the end of his life in the manner you did? Does his choice make him less important than one who daily walks through the doors of their home and experience the luxuries of life they have been blessed to achieve and maintain? Was that the most interesting thing going on in the world that day? I can only hope that since this article was published you have had a chance to reflect on the choices you made that day. I can only pray that in hindsight you realize that while an article informing the community of the death of “Broadway Bill” may have been of interest to the Bayside-Queens community you also realize the added sadness and grief you unwittingly placed upon the hearts and minds of his family when the decision to include that photo was made.
I also pray if the opportunity to cover a situation such as the death of my cousin, William” Broadway Bill” Bateman presents itself to you, one thing has become as embedded in your heart and mind as deeply as that photo has been embedded in ours – some people choose to not have a permanent residence. Chances are they do have family someplace and in today’s technical world cyberspace is our new neighbor and it lives closer than next door.

Remember… So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12(NIV)

Zelda Walker Ross
Montgomery, Alabama
Aug. 29, 2012, 1 pm
Phyllis E. from Bayside says:
God Bless You Zelda, and your entire family; I am so sorry for your loss. And, as painful as it was to write, thank you for writing what I felt. I broke down it tears and had to walk away when I saw the photos of Billy. I too was told of this article and was shocked to see him in this way. It will take a long time to forget this photo, but I will forever remember his smile and his soft cheek when I kissed his face. I will forever remember his hugs and his cute way of speaking. I will miss the man Billy was, his kind soul from the day I met him at the lumber yard 25 years ago until the last time I saw him at the Jackson's home. May you all have comfort in knowing we love the man William Bateman was and saw deep into the soul the man that his family knew. Hugs, love and prayers are with you always. Peace to you all and God's Blessings too.
Sept. 11, 2012, 10:11 am

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