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Detroit resident who died freezing to death is remembered

Kim Pettus was found dead in the snow in Detroit. She attended Webber Jr. High
Kim Pettus was found dead in the snow in Detroit. She attended Webber Jr. High

My childhood friend Michael Beavers, who lives in Wichita, Kansas called me and informed me that the frozen body of a former classmate of ours was found Wednesday night on Detroit’s Westside.

The woman, Kimberly Pettus, 54, was found in the driveway of a vacant home in the 14000 block of Prevost, Mary Mazur, a spokeswoman for the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office, said Thursday.

It was reported that she had been missing since the previous Sunday. She lived on the 7700 block of Faust Street.
Her cause of death is unknown, according to the Medical Examiners office.

The story of a woman’s death on the icy streets of Detroit’s Westside, although sad, does not have great relevance to a lot of people. It is sad but, it is a part of life many reason. She suffered from a Bipolar disorder, but was taking medication.

To me it struck a chord because Kimberly Pettus was a classmate of mine at Webber Jr. High in Detroit.
During those years when we were 13-14 years old, the world was in front of us. We were discovering new things about ourselves every day and ‘awkward’ was the most descriptive word defining most of us. Kim was our classmate when we were just realizing that girls had some great differences from guys.

Detroit was very different then.

It was not only home, but it was a city full of opportunity and optimism. Back then, Coleman Young was the Mayor of the city and public money was flowing steadily which kept many teens busy and out of trouble. There were summer jobs for teenagers who wanted them and many of us went to Edgewater Park and Belle Isle for leisure during the summer months.

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler were selling lots of automobiles back then and Toytota, Honda, and Nissan were no yet a factor.

Steel and stamping plants were still in the city and employing locals and contributing to the tax base.

Almost the whole school watched Soul Train every Saturday, and as I think back looking at videos today is a good way to characterize the essence of our junior high experience. The horrible clothes, platform shoes and afros are a snapshot of what Webber Junior High looked like in 1973-75 from the 7th to 9th grade.

My buddies, Michael, Anthony and Ricky and I liked our classmate, Kim Pettus.

Not just because she was very attractive with nice hair and full of energy, but also because she was smart and saucey. She was very observant and was capable of letting you have it verbally.

Yes, there was nothing like Junior High.

After the 9th grade everyone moved on to different high schools. We never saw Kim again until we heard about her death.
According to news reports Brishen Davis, 35, of Detroit, said between 9:30 and 10 p.m. Sunday, he saw a woman walking on Rutherford near Gand River. He said he later realized after seeing a picture of Pettus in media reports that it was her.

Rutherford is one street over from Prevost.

“She fell in the snow, I helped her up,” Davis said. “She asked me what street she was on. I told her and she walked off.”

It’s sad that her life ended so soon and in such a cold and lonely way, but it also is a strong reminder that life is short and relationships are meaningful.

It seems like just a short time ago, we were reminiscing about school days and wondering what ever happen to our classmates?

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