On January 21, 2013 news broke that a longtime Cincinnati icon had passed away over the weekend. The announcement came five years to the day of when I first met Avtar Gill, sometimes better known as the "Sign Guy" or "Hat Man." Avtar was a downtown fixture who could frequently be found at events donning a handmade sign that read like a news headline. He posed for the first portrait I ever made on my first college journalism assignment. Over the years, I'd run into him in the city and occasionally we'd share in conversation.
Avtar and his sign's will be missed, he was a unique part of Cincinnati. The city won't be the same without him, but it's better because of him.
I recently shared my experiences with Avtar on the website known as "Hat Man Movement," which seeks to create a tribute to Avtar. You can read my story and others here.