Roy Geno’s body was found draped in a tree. It was below an embankment that dropped some 50 feet to railroad tracks near Nineteenth and Mason Streets in Omaha, Nebraska. A 9-year-old girl walking with her aunt along the tracks saw the body. Police investigated but nobody knew what really happened.
Geno could have fallen from the edge and landed in the trees, he could have been pushed, or, in his despair, he could have done it himself. No one saw anything. No one knows. An autopsy was done but it revealed only that Geno had cirrhosis of the liver. His death, according to an article in the Omaha World Herald, had an added ignominy: Officials initially misspelled his name; they identified him as “Ray” Geno.
There was little said about his passing except for the grim way his body was found. Had he died in his cheap hotel room where he lived downtown, his name would have been a mere entry in a routine corner’s report.
Geno, 55, was an alcoholic with a long list of arrests for drinking. “We talked about training, about employment but it didn’t have much of an effect on him,” said Art Lian, a social worker for the Veterans Administration. “He wasn’t motivated. He was quiet and friendly, but just about hopeless.” Lian explained, “He kind of gave up. He had a lot of failures in his life and there wasn’t much of anything that gave him encouragement.”
Lian had suggested a Veterans home but Geno declined. He wanted to live alone in his low-rent room at the Overland Hotel on Howard Street. His landlady said, “He was a real loveable guy.” She said he helped around the hotel, sometimes ran errands, did odd jobs, drove a moving truck, worked as a cook, but nothing steady. He spent most of his time unemployed and inebriated.
Geno lived on a $185-a-month veteran’s pension check as a veteran of World War II, the submarine service some people think, but they didn’t know. He didn’t talk much about his past.
A sister-in-law in Texas reached by telephone told the Omaha World Herald that the family lost contact with him “many years ago.” According to her, he was one of five brothers whose mother died in childbirth. After the boys grew up on an Alabama farm, “they just scattered.” “We heard from him a few years back,” she said, “But not much. How did he die, do you know? Where did he die?”
Geno left no possessions, not even a wallet as it had been stolen a month earlier but had only a few dollars in it. The body was laid to rest in the veterans section of Hillcrest Cemetery in Omaha. There was no service at the funeral home, and no committal ceremony at the graveyard. No one came to say farewell. Roy Geno died as he had lived most of his life, alone.
Additional columns on this subject are available o www.RonRossToday.com. Do you have a tale of loneliness or other comments on this column? Share them with Dr. Ross by sending him an email: Dr.Ross@RonRossToday.com.
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