Friend shares letter showing Nick Fish’s compassion to formerly homeless couple


Fish contributed $250 to couple's crowdfunded wedding

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As tributes for the late Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish continue to pour in from colleagues, friends and admirers, he is being remembered as a man who took time out to attend a wedding of a formerly homeless couple that he came to know personally.

Fish died Thursday after a years-long battle with stomach cancer just days after he announced his retirement from being City Commissioner.

Nick Fish embracing a friend, the formerly homeless Denise Brown at her wedding. November 23, 2019 (Photo by Rhonda Nutting).

Fish had attended a wedding for two of his friends six weeks prior at First Congregational Church in downtown Portland.

Julius and Denise Brown received their dream wedding from a crowd fund organized by another friend, David Utzinger. Fish made a contribution to the fund for $250, according to the Go Fund Me page.

The couple are longtime volunteers of Potluck at the Park, a meal program in downtown Portland.

Fish first became acquainted with the couple 10 years ago when Denise and Julius were living under a bridge, according to a letter Fish wrote to his fellow city council members and friends. Utzinger shared the letter to KOIN 6 News.

Julius and Denise had ultimately been placed in housing thanks to a non-profit called JOIN.

Denise Brown (left) and Julius Brown were formerly homeless and met at a free meal program in downtown Portland. November 23, 2019 (KOIN/Danny Peterson).

Fish originally met the couple while serving as Housing Commissioner and specifically asked Marc Jolin, JOIN’s Executive Director and Fish’s friend, if he could personally deliver a meal to one of their clients. Ever since that Christmas Eve visit between Fish’s family and Denise and Julius, they remained friends.

“[T]heir story reminds me why Portland is such a special place,” Fish remarked in the letter.

Utzinger said Fish’s letter “says everything about the humanity of this man.”

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