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Bozeman community rallies to support beloved artist battling cancer

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Posted at 1:10 PM, Sep 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-27 15:32:24-04

BOZEMAN - Employees at Wild Joe’s Coffee in downtown Bozeman say Buzzard Wilder, known for painting the town with his artwork and acts of kindness would sit in the same corner booth every day as he painted.

This was until his battle with cancer became more intense. Now, the community he’s given so much to is giving back to him.

Lauren O’Melia, an employee at Wild Joe’s is an artist like Buzzard, inspired by his work, seen all around Bozeman.

“His art is just amazing, and it’s all done by hand,” said O’Melia. “A lot of people have been asking, ‘Hey where’s Buzzard?,' so he’s definitely a staple here.”

Buzzard is a 71-year-old man who has lived in Bozeman for years, making people smile.

Billy McWilliams, Buzzard's best friend and owner of Erotique in downtown Bozeman says buzzard has a way of using his passion to bring people together.

“He plays bass, he lived in Poland for years, he introduced Tiny Tim to his wife, so Tiny Tim now has a wife because of Buzzard,” said McWilliams. “He just lives for art, it’s crazy.”

If you walk downtown and see bright window paintings, they belong to Buzzard, who goes above and beyond for the community.

Theory Hair Salon owner Trevor Soucie says he’s seen Buzzard clearing ice jams in the winter.

“And making sure downtown looks good,” said Soucie. “One time, I had a bunch of tin in the alley when we were doing the remodel here and Buzzard came by on his bicycle and started picking it all up.”

Buzzard was homeless for five years until the HRDC helped him. HRDC Development Director Kristen Hamburg says her favorite memory of Buzzard is listening to him play his guitar.

“Sometimes he would sing, and I look at this picture and I can go straight back to this moment because he’s a fantastic human,” said Hamburg. “I love him.”

Funds are now being raised for Buzzard as he battles cancer and the response from the community has been overwhelming.

“I’m so touched by the joy people want to give Buzzard because he's given it to them,” said McWilliams.

To make a donation, you can visit the GoFundMe link.