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Celebrating Robert Eades’ life: Community activist remembered for his work, love and mantra ‘I cry’ following his death from COVID-19

A rainy Thursday wasn’t going to stop people from celebrating Robert Eades’ life at First Baptist Church in Annapolis. It certainly wouldn’t have stopped him from sharing his concerns with Annapolis’ elected officials.

Eades would have been 64 this month, but he died Aug. 3 after a fight with COVID-19. He is survived by his fiance BeLawn McGowan, his seven children and 10 grandchildren. Eades’ family said he spent a lot of time warning people about the dangers of the pandemic.

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His famous mantra, “I Cry,” was heard throughout the service. Eades was a common participant in Annapolis City Council meetings, holding officials accountable with tough questions and pleas to improve struggling parts of the city. He was known for his community participation that lasted more than three decades.

“We need more people like Robert, someone that worried about the people of this community,” the Rev. Vernard Brown said, who spoke at Eades’ funeral Thursday.

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Brown asked members to stand for a moment of solidarity for Eades.

The opening solo was Eades’ favorite song, “Rough Side of the Mountain” and was sung by Howard Johnson. This solo got the services feeling more upbeat and had people clapping and singing along.

During the reflections portion of the service, Mayor Gavin Buckley remembered Eades and honored him with a City Council citation. Eades supported Buckley during his run for mayor but wasn’t afraid to hold the mayor accountable during City Council public comment periods.

“There was only one Robert Eades. He always stood up for the underdog. It is only fitting he spent more time in City Hall than anyone here,” Buckley said. “We will miss him a lot.”

Tributes poured out for Eades following his death. The Annapolis Office of Emergency Management recognized Eades’ efforts on Food Fridays, delivering food to needy Annapolis families since April 2019. Eades, alongside his daughter London, also appeared in an informational video in which they showed how easy it was to get a COVID-19 test.

“My opinion is: If there is something free that can save your life, jump on it,” Eades said in the video. “There are fliers going around in the community to let you know where they will be and when they will be.”

Tavon Eades, Robert’s oldest son, said his dad’s love spread everywhere. Tavon believes his dad prepared him and his other siblings for this moment.

“He touched the whole city, and ‘I Cry’ will live on forever,” Tavon said.

Derrick Eades, Robert’s youngest son, spoke to members of the service without a microphone just like he said his own dad would do.

Eades told a story about the last phone call he had with his father and how Robert told him the best thing he gave him in this life was the last name, Eades. He said his father told him with that last name he could do anything in the world. He thanked everyone who had a hand helping his father.

Robert Eades was known to come to people’s aid when needed, and the community has responded in kind before. After several surgeries sidelined him and he got an infection in 2016, Tavon Eades set up a GoFundMe for his father. They raised $6,453 against the $6,000 goal.

One of Robert’s long time friends, Lewis Bracy, called Robert one of the most down to earth and realist people he has ever met. Bracy met Robert in 1985.

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“Robert always kept his word and he always fought to keep the streets clean and do everything he can to help the young people,” Bracy said.

Bracy will be starting a $1,000 scholarship fund in Robert Eades’ name and the first recipient of it will be Eades’ daughter London.

Lilly Price contributed to this story.

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