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May 18, 2015

St. Louis’ ‘Rose Man’ killed in hit-and-run crash; suspect arrested

St. Louis Post Dispatch – May 18, 2015 9:30 pm • By Joel Currier

ST. LOUIS • A bullet ended the life of St. Louis’ original “Rose Man.” A car took the life of his sibling successor.

Jerrel Dean Nixon sold roses in area nightclubs as the “Rose Man,” a nickname he adopted from his brother after he was shot to death in 2008. Nixon was struck and killed Sunday night by a hit-and-run driver in St. Louis.

He was 64, the same age as his brother, Lee Nixon, when he was killed seven years ago while selling roses at a Washington Park nightclub.

St. Louis police say Jerrel Nixon was crossing Natural Bridge Avenue at Farrar Street in a crosswalk just before midnight Sunday when he was struck. A 2011 Chrysler 200 that was speeding east on Natural Bridge ran a red light and hit Nixon in the crosswalk.

The driver in Sunday’s crash fled the scene, police say, but was arrested nearby at Natural Bridge and Parnell Street. Charges had not been filed late Monday.

Roses wrapped in plastic still littered the scene of the crash the morning after Nixon was killed.

Nixon’s brother, Lee Nixon, sold roses at area nightclubs for three decades until he was fatally shot in June 2008.

Witnesses in that case told police that someone in a passing silver Chevrolet Impala or Malibu fired shots from a high-powered rifle into the club, hitting Nixon and another person. The case was never solved.

After Lee Nixon died, Jerrel Nixon and his niece, Lesia Nixon, 49, of St. Louis, took over the rose business, making regular stops at clubs around St. Louis and St. Louis County.

“It was my way of keeping him alive,” Lesia Nixon said of continuing her father’s rose business. “He offered joy and love, and it would have been an abysmal void if none of us had taken it up and continued.”

She said her father and uncle both served in the Vietnam War.

After the war, she said her uncle sold merchandise including balloons and stuffed animals around town. He began selling roses and took over his brother’s “Rose Man” moniker after his death.

He lived in the 5900 block of Hamilton Terrace, according to authorities.

Lesia Nixon described her uncle as a “compromising,” “strong” and “lovable” person who knew what he wanted in life and was determined to achieve his goals.

She said he learned never to harbor anger toward others because he knew it didn’t accomplish anything.

She said she believes her uncle had just left a regular stop, CW’s Lounge at 2600 Natural Bridge Avenue, when he was hit.

Lesia Nixon said she and her uncle became closer after her father died; she said she wasn’t sure if she would continue selling roses now.

“It’s like I’ve lost my dad a second time,” she said. “It’s like my dad has died again.”

A fund to help with expenses related to Jerrel Nixon’s death has been set up at gofundme.com/Jerrel_Nixonfund.

Kim Bell of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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