MILTON, Ga. – It was a bright, sunny day with a cool wind that saw the nearly 100 mourners pay their respects to Andrew Wordes, better known as Roswell’s Chicken Man, who died in an explosion in his Roswell home Monday morning
“Andrew was proud, stubborn, patriotic,” laughed longtime friend Bill Lester. “He liked guns and cars, so he became a redneck” who had a passion for animals and for fixing up old cars.
“We’re finding out just how close people were to him,” said Patti Silva, a friend of Wordes. “It’s pretty incredible.”
Wordes gained a following among the schoolchildren in North Fulton because he would often visit classrooms to teach about farm animals and to give away chicks.
“He showed me every single animal he had and told me all their names,” said 11-year-old Roxi Silva.
Words such as “eccentric” and “stubborn” were often used when the mourners described Wordes, but they were all affectionate to the man they knew as the “Chicken Man.”
“He was a chain-smoking, wiry, Jewish, used-car salesman,” said former neighbor Sheree Crowe. “Andy’s heart was huge. We believed he could do anything. Do you need a ride to work? Call Andy. Kids late to school? Call Andy. He was not the Chicken Man to me, he was a friend.”
“Andrew made friends everywhere,” said Olivia McKeever. She met Wordes at a protest for Joe Patten, the so-called “Phantom of the Fox,” who was facing eviction from his apartments in the Fox Theatre. “That’s how Andrew was,” McKeever said. “He took time out of his troubles to help someone else stay in their home.”
“How was it going to end?” asked brother Jim Wordes. “I knew it wasn’t going to end in an assisted living facility.”
Jim said Wordes had a habit of both endearing himself to strangers and alienating himself to the same people. He was stubborn and often would not take no for an answer, living largely by his own rules. Wordes died “exactly how he wanted to go,” Jim said.
Wordes died Monday morning as Fulton County Marshals came to evict him from his Alpine Drive home in Roswell. Rather than allow his home to be taken from him, Wordes set the home alight, destroying the home and killing himself.
All of Wordes’ famous animals – pigs, goats and, of course, chickens – were found adoptive homes in the days prior to the events Monday.
The burial plot was donated by Jim Bell, of Milton Fields Cemetery. It is a green cemetery – using Earth-friendly burial practices – and only bears flat grave markers. The effect is that of an empty field, rather than a graveyard. At the head of Wordes’ grave was placed a small wooden sign that bore a number of chickens, scratching at the ground, clucking.
A fitting resting place for the Chicken Man.