Homeless man dies on bench in Bayside

Horace Brown (l.) identifies the body of his friend, William Bateman, at the Long Island Rail Road Bayside station. Photo by Steve Mosco
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Known as Broadway Bill to Bayside residents, a homeless man died Friday on the same bench where he spent many days and nights.

William Bateman, a homeless man who neighbors said was a fixture around the community was found dead on a bench outside the Bayside railroad train station on 41st Avenue early Friday.

The man 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, adding that Bateman regularly bought cigarettes and muffins from the newsstand. “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.”

Passersby 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, who said he spoke to Bateman once in a while about everything from the weather to Bateman’s drinking problem. “He said he was planning to move to Alabama after Labor Day to live with his sister and try to quit drinking.”

Bateman also told his former roommate Brown about his plans to kick the drinking habit in Alabama. Brown said he was skeptical about his friend’s determination to get sober.

“I told him I’ll believe it when I see it,” he said. “He used to wait outside the liquor store in the morning, waiting for it to open. He had that problem for a long time. His liver was just ate up.”

Others in the neighborhood shared positive memories of Bateman, remembering him as a quiet man who could be seen feeding birds outside the railroad station.

“He wasn’t noisy and he wasn’t rowdy,” said Carlo Ferrante, who lives across the street from where Bateman’s body was found. “People bought him coffee from time to time and sat and talked with him. He was well-known around here.”

Reach reporter Steve Mocsco by e-mail at

Updated 12:37 am, August 30, 2012
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Reader feedback

Phyllis E from Bayside says:
RIP my friend! Billy was a good man, never asked anyone for anything. He had a kind soul, not a mean bone in his body. He was my friend for 25 years; he was glad I found recovery and I never judged him for his choices in life. We had mutual respect for one another and we looked out for eachother. I knew Billy wouldn't be with us much longer, but it doesn't help the pain I feel for his loss. I will miss him for a long long time, and he will forever be my friend. I know I know my words hold true for Mrs. Frances Jackson and her son Jeff, Billy was their dear friend and will truly be missed. Our hearts and prayer are with his Mother and family at their time of sorrow. May you rest in peace our dear friend, you are sober now, please say "hi" to our departed friends and I'll see you when I get there.
Sept. 11, 2012, 9:54 am
Tony B from Bayside Queens says:
My name is Tony and I had the pleasure of working and 'knowing Billy Bateman I worked with Billy in the late early 80's to early 90's.Billy was nothing less then a gentleman to me and my family. When Broadway Lumber closed its doors in the mid 90's I would still run into Billy from time to time. I can remember there was never a time that Billy didn't have a smile on his face even though he was going through his hard times. I know Billy was always having trouble with his drinking habits but as I said before Billy was NOTHING but a gentleman to us I will always remember the laughs and good times we had at work and I for one to say Billy always put a smile on my face R.I.P my friend a person I am proud to have called a friend
March 10, 2016, 2:01 pm

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