Iconic Portland street performer, 'Workin' Kirk,' dies

Friends are planning a candlelight vigil for Reeves on Nov. 18 at 4 p.m.
It will be held under the Hawthorne Bridge.

PORTLAND, Ore. - You couldn't miss Kirk Reeves. He was the man who greeted thousands every day along the Hawthorne Bridge with his infectious smile, white tuxedo and Mickey Mouse hat.

Reeves, a well-known street performer in Portland known as 'Workin' Kirk,' passed away this weekend. Police later said that he was found at Bybee Lake in North Portland, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

It wasn't just Reeves' larger-than-life personality that would get plenty of attention as he sat by the ramp to the bridge. It was the sound of his trumpet that would have people smiling from ear to ear as they passed by.

Many of those motorists, bicyclists or pedestrians would hand Reeves the spare change they had on them or a dollar or two as they drove by. Some of those motorists expressed how the man with the smile made them feel as they drove by his spot on the bridge Wednesday.

"It made me happy because it made me feel I was a Portlander. He was such a Portland touchstone," said one woman.

"The guy was a good guy. Always in good spirits. (It's) definitely sad to see him go. I've seen him in this community for over 10 years," said another commuter.

Over the last couple of years David Carroll grew close to Reeves.

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"Ever since I've known Portland, I've known Kirk Reeves. He's actually more of a landmark than Powell's or Voodoo Doughnuts," Carroll said.

He said if Reeves wasn't at his usual spot on the bridge, it wouldn't take too long to find him.

"You could sort of just keep an ear open for a horn and you could go find him. He would be there because it was such a reliable thing that Kirk was around," Carroll said.

As independent as Reeves was, he wasn't afraid to ask for a favor once in a while.

"He'd give us a mission to go get him a new slide whistle. He told us to go down to Finnegan's Toy Store and get him a new slide whistle because he was running out. And that was one of his key things," Carroll said.

Police have been trying to track down Reeves' family. A tip from the public helped them find his sister so she could be notified of his death. Anyone with further information about his family can call the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office at (971) 673-8220.