Clay City remembers “The Can Man” in candlelight vigil

The bench that Michael would often sit and play guitar on is decorated with flowers, candles and memorabilia. (WTHI Photo)
The bench that Michael would often sit and play guitar on is decorated with flowers, candles and memorabilia. (WTHI Photo)

CLAY CITY, Ind. (WTHI) – The days are quiet and cold in Clay City. As candles light the way around a little bench, it stands a memory of someone dear.

“We were brother and sister in heart and soul,” said Diana Sturgeon.

Many knew Philip Michael as “The Can Man”, always walking around and collecting cans with a smile. To Sturgeon, she knew him as family.

“He was my reason for getting up, you know,” she said, “I took care of him, he would always make me smile.”

Michael died after being hit by a car Monday night. Wednesday, residents came together to celebrate his life with a candlelight vigil.

Many shared their stories, recalling him as a man with a warm smile, full of conversation with a love for religion and all people.

“He loved God and he didn’t care who knew it,” said James Turnes, “He wasn’t afraid to share it. I just loved his free spirit, he was who he was and he wasn’t ashamed of it.”

While the loss is unexpected and sudden, the community is doing their best to heal and move forward, remembering Michael and the kind of person he was.

“If they can take anything away from what Philip was about, be happy, live life, love each other,” Sturgeon said.

“I think that we could learn a lot from Philip,” said Turnes,”that we can not judge people, we can love people for who they are and where they’re at in life and you know, just smile and wave.”

You can make donations in Philip’s name to any First Financial Bank. Money will also go toward funding a scholarship in his memory.