Word on the Street Issue 23, July 2022
By Erin Sheridan
Rebecca Owsley was a beloved member of the Interfaith Sanctuary community. She stayed at the shelter off and on for many years as she waited for access to permanent housing. Owsley moved out of the shelter in February after qualifying for an apartment and passed away several months later. Guests and staff at the shelter celebrated her life in late June.
Pastor Rob Tulloch of Boise First Congregational United Church of Christ said in his eulogy that while Owsley’s life may have come to an end, she left behind a life that touched many. “There is something to be said about a life that leaves behind so much positivity,” he said. “Regardless of how difficult things might have been, regardless of the trials that she had to endure, she always had a kind thing to say or do because she always worried about others first.”
Owsley was known for her love of romance novels, nature, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. She carried around a yarn bag and always stayed on the lookout for the people around her who needed help. She rarely asked for help for herself, shelter staff said. Owsley struggled with alcoholism and sometimes found herself in dangerous conditions living outside. But she always greeted everyone with thanks and a smile. One Interfaith Sanctuary guest remembered her kindness. “I used to bring her in when she was in the alleyway because I was worried about her,” he said. “She thanked me for doing that. That’s in my heart.”
Shelter guest Bill M. said of Owsley that “No matter how humble she was or how much pain she was in, she always smiled. She always had a kind word for you. I am going to miss you Becca and I’m glad that you’re hopefully at peace now and you are going to be truly missed in my heart.”
Executive Director Jodi Peterson-Stigers said her favorite memory of Owsley was watching her thrive in the City of Boise Parks and Rec Work Program, where she spent time tending to plants and keeping Boise’s parks beautiful. “Life circumstances took it away from her, but I got to see her be that flower child in nature,” Peterson-Stigers said.
“The one thing I want you to take from our loss of Rebecca is that as badly as she wanted a home, she had to leave her family behind, and that was really, really hard for her,” said Peterson-Stigers. “None of you have to leave your family behind.. We’re always here. Rebecca would not want you to feel alone, to experience isolation.