RALEIGH — Curtis Woodard made a point of looking sharp, greeting each day with a pair of slacks, a button-up shirt and a kufi cap.
Even when he stayed in the homeless shelter on Wilmington Street, he kept himself tidy and neat, believing that the world judges character by the face you show it.
That credo may have killed him.
Woodard died last month after being beaten with a beer bottle in a robbery attempt on East Hargett Street downtown. His family believes the 64-year-old man was targeted because he looked like an easy and profitable mark, a well-dressed man whose pockets were often empty.
They gathered in Chavis Park Saturday with members of Woodards church, praying for an end to senseless killing and a return to basic decency they learned growing up in South Raleigh neighborhoods.
I want to see it as peaceful as it used to be, said niece Evonie Woodard. My uncle was not a violent man. He wouldnt have wanted to fight with anybody. He probably would have just given you whatever he had.
Police have charged 32-year-old Britis Andruce Previlon with Woodards murder. Officers say he ran away from the scene and was arrested two hours later. His charges were upgraded from attempted murder after Woodard died from his injuries 16 days after the Oct. 7 attack.
On Saturday, Woodards friends and family described a man who deserved a better end.
He had lived in both Wilson and New Jersey, and he gathered his fashion sense from his wife, a seamstress, with whom he once owned a clothing shop in New Jersey called Kumbaya.
In more recent years, he sold Kirby vacuums door-to-door, and he approached the difficult job with the same enthusiasm he brought to his wardrobe.
Hed vacuum my floor sometimes, and hed be giving me a Kirby demonstration, his niece said.
Woodard also sang and played the mouth keyboard, performing in soul bands as Little James Brown. Hed been friends with Michael Ray, who played trumpet with Kool & the Gang. Ray attended Woodards funeral and played his friend a tribute.
He was just a precious man, said Bishop Ron Collett of The Stone Church in North Raleigh. We would send our van and pick up guys at the shelter, and hed be there every Sunday. He actually sang for my anniversary (as bishop) two years ago.
At the time of his death, Woodard was living with a girlfriend in Durham, his niece said. He had come to Raleigh by bus on the night of his attack, and was likely walking to a friends house when he was struck with the bottle.
I feel bad for him, Evonie Woodard said of her uncles attacker. He had to be living some kind of miserable life to want to hurt somebody like that.
As they prayed Saturday, they remembered a man who swept up at the church, keeping it as spiffy as his attire.
It just wasnt his time, Collett said. It wasnt his time.