Firefighter, boxing coach, mentor and friend -- D.C. lost one of its unsung heroes.
Hundreds of people turned out on Friday to say good bye to Bernard "Boogaloo" Roach.
It's a measure of his impact that the Spirit of Faith Christian Center in Temple Hills filled to overflowing with love for Roach. It was not a funeral, but a celebration of his life.
“His restlessness, his caring, his loyalty, he was so not done,” said one of his many nieces, as she struggled through tears.
Roach was born and raised in D.C., and had been a soldier, a firefighter, and the kind of guy who would roust his fire chief on his day off to go care for a firefighter in need.
“My father was grateful. And I'm so grateful to see everyone giving back,” one of his sons told worshipers.
Roach founded No “X”Cuse Gym in Capitol Heights. He coached pros, and touched scores of young people who were looking for a mentor.
“He taught me to believe in myself and to keep working hard,” said DeMarco Wrenn, 17.
“He used to always teach me stuff. He used to push me so I could win every fight I had. And he gave me a good life,” said another young man.
His boxers remembered a strict disciplinarian who believed building strong fighters builds strong families, and that strong families built strong communities.
But his friends also remembered his humor.
“And I was always trying to say I was a Christian man,” said one of his former firefighting colleagues. “And he said, 'Yeah, right!’”
Retired Fire Lieutenant Bernard Boogaloo Roach was just 52. He leaves behind two sons, a fiancé, a family of firefighters -- and a community grateful for his life.
Friends say Roach died last Friday from complications of a heart attack.
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