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Generosity Comes Full Circle at Bethel's Bagel Crossing

Special sandwich — The Generous Ryan — is keeping a local man's legacy alive.

Jerry Brooker used to enjoy having conversations with his friend, Ryan Kirk, at the Bagel Crossing on Library Place. Though there was an age difference, Brooker said he found inspiration in Kirk’s youth and hoped Kirk found wisdom in his experience.

Tragically, Kirk passed away suddenly three weeks ago at the age of 36.

“He was an extraordinary fellow,” Brooker said. “Probably the most generous human being I’ve met in my life.”

Wanting to honor his friend’s memory, Brooker spoke with the owners at Bagel Crossing and devised an interesting way of continuing Kirk’s legacy of giving.

A new sandwich named, “The Generous Ryan” — which includes roast beef, Monterey Jack cheese, lettuce, tomato and chipotle sauce — is now on the list of daily specials. With each purchase, Brooker contributes 50 cents toward those who aren’t able to pay.

For the 8 years she has owned Bagel Crossing, Sofia Brahimaj hasn’t let a customer’s lack of funds stop her from feeding them.

“Jerry saw that I would give a sandwich or coffee away for free,” Brahimaj said, noting that she remembered the two coming in together often.

“She’ll often give someone a sandwich and let them pay her a day or two later, if at all,” Brooker said, noting that it’s the kind of thing Kirk would have done.

“He made this simple request — he asked if we would name a sandwich after his friend,” said Deana McCauley, who invented The Generous Ryan. “I asked [Brooker] to describe his friend in two words and he said, ‘Generous and loving,’ and that’s how it got its name.”

The Bagel Crossing is keeping track of how many they sell and in turn Brooker plans to make regular donations to help support the generosity already found in the local sandwich shop.

“We’re just trying to push forward [Kirk’s] way of thinking,” Brooker said.

During the eulogy, Brooker read a line from Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” The last stanza reads:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

“Though the miles were cut short for Ryan, we can be sure he kept his promise,” Brooker said, as the legacy he leaves behind is clear and inspiring.

“He was a very, very good guy,” Brahimaj said. “We’re honored to sell a sandwich with his name.”
Jerry Brooker January 16, 2014 at 04:40 PM
Thank you, Aaron. You nailed it!

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