GREENSBORO — To the people who lived, worked and hung out on Tate Street, he was known as “Uncle Pete.”
His family called him “Peewee.” His given name was Alonzo.
However people knew him — as a brother, protector or friend — they won't forget Alonzo Dudley Jr., who died last week. Greensboro residents gave generously to an online fundraiser that will cover funeral expenses. A celebration of his life will be held downtown next week.
“Everyone was his niece or his nephew. We were all his family,” said David Self, a Greensboro tattoo artist who organized the fundraiser and next week's memorial service. “He’d always refer to Greensboro as his family.”
Few knew Uncle Pete’s story. His sister, Theresa Moore of Greensboro, filled in some details this week.
Dudley was born in Norfolk, Va., in 1960 and would have turned 59 in July. The sixth of seven children, he had five older sisters and a younger brother.
His family moved to the tiny Stanly County town of Badin, a few miles outside Albemarle, when Dudley was 5 or 6. The family moved to Greensboro when Dudley was a teenager. He and his brother both attended Grimsley High School.
Life was tough for the family. Money was tight. Their mother, Moore recalled, “was a beautiful woman who drank.”
Growing up, Dudley was known as “Peewee” because at a slight 5-foot-7 he was smaller than his siblings. Later, Moore said, “Peewee” became “Pete.”
After high school, Dudley did roofing work, poured concrete sidewalks and driveways and picked up odd jobs here and there.
He was closest with his younger brother, McKinley Dudley, known to many as "Mac." The two brothers lived on the streets for years together.
Mac lost a leg in 1993 when he was run over by a train. Until his death in 2004, Mac and his crutch were fixtures along Gate City Boulevard.
Alonzo Dudley, meanwhile, walked everywhere. To the bridges near downtown under which he slept most nights. To Tate Street, where he and Ricky, his constant companion for the past two decades, hung out and asked for spare change. To a downtown rooming house where he and Ricky had lived for the past several years. To the east side of town, where he cut grass, washed cars and did yard work for his sister and other area residents.
“When he was healthy and strong, he walked,” Moore said. “That’s how he knew so many people. He loved meeting people and making friends.”
Self as a teen used to hang out at the former Gate City Noise, a Tate Street shop that sold skateboards and vinyl records. Everyone on Tate Street knew Uncle Pete and Ricky.
The pair worked a good cop/bad cop routine, Self said. Ricky was the aggressive one. Dudley was the peacemaker.
After Ricky would act out, Dudley would step in. Self recalled: “He’d go, ‘I’m sorry about him. He’s an old fool. Can you help me out, please, nephew?'”
Many others knew Dudley because he walked with young women to make sure they got home safely at night.
On a Reddit.com page where people shared their memories of Dudley, one person wrote: “Used to live on Walker Ave. in a house with a bunch of girls. I’ll never forget Pete telling us to ‘yell real loud’ for him if anyone ever bothered us.”
Another person wrote: “I used to live on Walker with 3 other girls in our early 20s. Pete would always come by to check on us, hang out a bit and run off anyone who stopped by that he considered of lesser character. He was a good guy.”
Self said Dudley was friendly and soft-spoken, someone who made people feel at ease.
“He was a genuinely caring guy,” Self said. “He just had a way about him. You could hear the kindness in his voice.”
In August, Dudley went into the hospital. Years of alcohol and drug abuse and living on the streets had taken their toll. Self, who now works at a downtown tattoo shop, noticed last fall that Dudley had lost a lot of weight and had started using a walker to get around.
Dudley went back into the hospital for the final time in January. He died at a local nursing home last Thursday at age 58.
Self set up a GoFundMe account Friday to raise $2,000 to cover cremation expenses and to hold a memorial service. By Monday morning, people who knew Dudley had given twice that amount. Self said that any money left over will go to a charity that helps persons experiencing homelessness.
The donations have been a blessing, Moore said. The outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming.
“Family is not just the family you’re born to,” Moore said. “Family extends way out.”
Want to go?
A celebration of the life of Alonzo "Uncle Pete" Dudley Jr. will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. April 16 on the patio of Cafe Europa at 200 N. Davie St. in downtown Greensboro.