Randy Limburg: Warrior for the Poor and Afflicted

Randy Limburg has passed. The gentle giant who once raged along Modesto’s mean streets on a bicycle with steers’ horns strapped to the handlebars and then found his way back from the hard ground of homelessness died on February 2 after a long bout with Covid.

Randy’s bright smile shone a light wherever he went, but it was especially welcome among the shadows of homeless camps and by people abandoned by everyone except this big man and his bigger heart.

Randy’s path out of homelessness included stints working as an outreach staff member for Telecare and culminated with a position on Modesto’s Community Health and Assistance Team (CHAT), where he continued his determined mission to help his neediest neighbors. Often frustrated with a system that resisted his best efforts to provide help for the helpless, Randy never stopped trying. When he found himself confronted by an impenetrable thicket of bureaucratic rules that prevented doing what he knew best, he turned to his network of friends and volunteers for help.

It was because of Randy Limburg that Alan Davis, the amputee who haunted downtown Modesto for years, found shelter and care toward the end of his short life. When he couldn’t get Alan help through official channels, he managed to enlist volunteers and get him to Modesto’s Outdoor Emergency Shelter where he was watched over by volunteer Frank Ploof, Modesto Police Sargent Mike Hammond, and city and county staff.

Randy Limburg and Veda Malon
With Veda Malone

Like many mentally ill homeless people, Alan wandered away once placed in Stanislaus County’s low barrier shelter, but he never managed to escape the watchful eye of Randy Limburg. Whenever he found Alan adrift and hungry, Randy managed to see he was fed and returned to shelter, even if it meant enlisting Ploof in a mission of gentle persuasion and help with Alan’s wheelchair.

Greeting everyone with, “I love you,” Randy turned a cliché about caring into a mission of hope and compassion. He found redemption meant most when it was shared and passed forward. Too many people to count found comfort and a way home when Randy Limburg became their guide and companion.

He brought his love of food, music and living in the light to everyone he met. An indomitable warrior for the poor and afflicted, he never faltered in his battle against defeat and despair.

Only days ago, he seemed to be recovering from the virus that has killed almost 900,000 United States citizens. He sent messages that he was feeling better, then went silent. Shortly thereafter, he was gone.

Leaving behind a spirit of joy and redemption, Randy Limburg lives on in every kind heart and generous soul that reaches out to the least among us. In the darkest night, look upward and he’ll be there.


Eric Caine
Eric Caine
Eric Caine formerly taught in the Humanities Department at Merced College. He was an original Community Columnist at the Modesto Bee, and wrote for The Bee for over twelve years.
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  1. Randy and I knew each other for about 7 years. I met him at Turning Point Garden Gate respite program and continued to work with him for another 4 years while I was at MGM. We had many encouraging conversations that usually envolved spiritual topics. He would show up or call out of the blue wanting help for a mutual client. He was a fierce advocate and friend for the broken in our city. Randy I will miss out talks and and you showing up with someone needing help. I trust you found your way into your Saviors arms.

  2. What a loss! He will be greatly missed by his fellow workers and the homeless he cared for.
    Eric, this is a beautiful and moving elegy.

  3. Randy was such a great friend to me. He taught me so much by his example of love & grace for humanity. Rock on Randy!!

  4. Eric:
    This story brings tears to my eyes. For the terrible loss of this warrior helping our homeless, but also because of the touching power of your writing.

  5. As the others have said, this is a beautiful and moving tribute to one of our area’s most inspiring individuals
    Thank you, Eric.

  6. Dad thank u for making this world a warmer more tolerable place thank u for teaching me that love doesn’t need to be earned and people are worthy just the way they are thank u for being my rock my support my cheerleader my guide my DAD. Thank u for always being strong and always marching forward and always not only saying “united we stand divided we fall” but also putting that to action and showing me and Rachel what it meant to stick together. I wish I could be more like u no matter how proud u said u were of me that’s nothing to the sense of pride I feel just being your daughter. U were remarkable and I’ll miss and love u until my last day.

    • Dear Mollee and Rachel,

      Because of what you communicated, here, I can appreciate the man that your Dad is.
      I speak of him in present tense, because I believe he graduated on to a greater ministry.

      Your Dad is a wise man, who spoke Truth for you two to remember and share forward, just as you shared with Valley Citizens here.

      I have yet to meet your Dad, yet he has touched me through the words that he seeded to grow. I recognize from what you remember and share that he will be missed by many.

      I am certain that he walks in an anointing of the Truths he believes: “love doesn’t need to be earned,” “people are worthy just the way they are,” and “united we stand divided we fall.”

      I believe you and Rachel were shown by his actions what it means “to stick together.”

      May God continue to remind us, all, of what your Dad meant by his words and actions.

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