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Remembering Peter Bis, Capitol Hill Fixture Remembering Peter Bis, Capitol Hill Fixture

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Blogs / People

Remembering Peter Bis, Capitol Hill Fixture

August 17, 2012
Update: We've been told a memorial of sorts has emerged at the Exxon where Bis used to sleep.

Original story: Those who commute via Union Station may have noticed the absence of a familiar face on Thursday morning. Peter Bis, a homeless man who has posted up on the corner of Second Street and Massachusetts Avenue NE for years, died on Wednesday night, according to a number of news reports.

A blog post by a neighbor who knew Bis said he died from an apparent heart attack while inside the Exxon gas station garage--his usual bedroom.

Many knew Bis for his daily countdown to the weekend --"four more days" -- and his warnings--"no skinny dipping." And he was easy to spot, sitting between two giant tarp-covered mounds of his belongings.

Bis kept a blog that reveals a scattered mind consumed by conspiracy theories. The banner reads "Peter Bis: Vatican, Finances, Mafia, Kalamazoo," and accuses others of taking money he had rightfully earned.

But to his neighbors, Bis was a fixture of the Capitol Hill community, as evidenced by the coffee, food, and money he was often given. Many Heritage Foundation employees, whose office is adjacent to Bis's "perch," got to know their neighbor well over the years.

Ken McIntyre
, special projects editor at Heritage, shared these memories with the Alley:

Pete struck up innumerable conversations with me as I walked past his corner perch on my way to and from The Heritage Foundation over the past five years. He'd often break off to advise another passerby along the lines of "Two days till the weekend. Remember, no skinny dipping!"

Many of his stories wove convoluted threads of espionage, foreign powers and Princess Diana. He also wasn't fond of organized religion.

I last spoke to Pete on Wednesday afternoon, when he called out to me as I left the Heritage building and cut through the corner Exxon station with two colleagues on the way to a meeting. Pete pantomimed stirring a cup of coffee as his way of reminding me that I hadn't brought him one lately (with heavy creamer and sugar).

I assured him I would, but regret that I forgot. Pete knew I was good for it eventually, though. He was especially glad when a doughnut accompanied the coffee.

Occasionally Pete would give me a shopping list for my next visit to a thrift store-he needed a tray, white spray paint, a chair, a lamp, a picture frame. My wife was happy to help oblige-to a point!-sometimes from our garage. He confessed a fondness for belly-dancing videos, and was so pleased when I brought him a couple.
This post has been updated. Originally published Aug. 16, 5:35 p.m.
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