Baltimore’s Iconic Walking Man Passes Away

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Photo via the Baltimore Sun
Photo via the Baltimore Sun

One of the best things about living in an urban environment is all the characters you encounter as you move through the city. You may never speak to some of these people, but they make up a crucial part of your experience of the city. And often, you don’t realize how attached you were to a particular stranger until they’re gone.

For many Baltimoreans, Mark Thompson was known only as Walking Man, after his daily practice of walking throughout the city, always sporting his signature backpack.

It’s sad that many people (myself included) only learned about the facts of Thompson’s life — his prize-winning stint at MICA, cut short by a diagnosis of schizophrenia; his donut habit; how much his family loved him — from his obituary in the Baltimore Sun. It’s a lovely portrait of a kind man whose pedestrian habits meant that he encountered many people throughout the city — some of whom he regarded as friends; others who counted on seeing him as a regular part of their day.

“Mark met many people along his walks, and people often stopped to talk to him. They asked him how far he had walked that day,” his sister, Michele Jacobs, told the Sun. “He was always kind, considerate and respectful. He was occasionally given gifts. One person gave him a pedometer to track how far he walked.”

Thompson’s life will be celebrated during a memorial service at 2 PM on Jan. 16 at the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church on Roland Avenue.

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  1. I’ve been seeing him on Falls Rd, Charles Street, Roland Ave and downtown for at least 20 years. Once I saw him in the then SuperFresh in Hampden buying cookies. Never knew his name or anything about him…just that he walked. A lot. I called him “the Walker”. Sorry to read he has passed away. RIP

    • Thank you for your kind comments about Mark. All the comments from total strangers, and friends alike have been overwhelming,but brought comfort to our family. Bonnie Thompson Mark’s Mom

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