He was often there with Jake and a cardboard sign asking for money to feed them both.
The two lovebirds paired up about four years ago when Casey Tingley felt bad about having a dog so big and young being locked in a tiny house all day.
“Like a lot of people, you have a pet and life is busy,” Tingley said. Even after fixing Jake, “he was super.”
At the time, Frost lived with a handful of other people on Beverly Avenue “in what I would call a cabin,” Tingley said. “It was an abandoned house, and they ran an extension cord over there and had a propane heater.”
“Roger started to help us with the dog” by taking him for a walk. One walk led to another and finally to the day Frost asked if he could have the dog.
Tingley called saying yes “the best thing I’ve ever done”. The same dog who ran away as soon as Tingley opened the door “would be walking right next to (Frost) off leash,” he said. “This dog turned out to be his long-term best friend.”
And it was obvious that Frost needed it.
“You never know (about) someone’s past,” Tingley said. “Sometimes you have to look beyond. How they ended up where they ended up, you never know. I was thinking what kind of place you were (Frost’s circumstances). You just don’t know.
This same thought ultimately brought David Snyder into Frost’s life.
An IT manager at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, “I’ll give him a few bucks” every now and then on the turnoff.
But most of the time Snyder “thought the guy should find something to do.” He’s there all the time.
Then the day came when Snyder stopped to find out more.
“I asked him if he wanted a ride.” This led to a stop at the nearby Meijer store, where Snyder bought Frost soap, coffee “and maybe Advil”.
A deacon at Living Water Orthodox Presbyterian on St. Paris Pike, “I’m used to dealing with people in difficult circumstances,” Snyder said. And to his surprise, he found Frost “very open.
“He didn’t deliberately try to manipulate a relationship. He appeared to me to be genuine, in the sense that he had needs.
At the time, Frost was living in another cabin on Tibbetts Avenue. And on their regular trips there, “I drove quite slowly or parked to talk. It was really interesting for me to understand what his life was like. I was happy to help whenever I could.
He wasn’t alone either.
Alerted by her friend Nikki McKeever, who was then working in an Applebee’s on the same outing, Joyce Carver lent a hand.
“I didn’t give him any money – I didn’t have a lot of money,” Carver said. “But I gave her walks” – to the doctor and the bank and to another shack that had, she said, “no light, no water, no nothing.”
In the process, “I really warmed up with Jake,” she said. And Labrador’s devotion to him “told me something about the character of man… and I finally began to take his word for it.”
Snyder and Carver pieced together pieces of Frost’s biography and personality.
She gleaned that Frost’s biological family may have done migrant work in Florida.
Snyder discovered Frost’s expressive talent.
“A lot of times while we were driving I thought he was talking to me about something, but he was telling me a poem he had written.” Frost also mentioned a book filled with such writings that Snyder never saw.
“I feel like I have an idea of who he is. There are many more holes than I filled in his life.
One hole he filled was Frost’s sense of alienation from others.
“He said to me ‘I don’t want help from anyone in my family.'”
Frost took a brother’s occasional walks around town and had some sort of relationship with a girl in Florida, whom he visited and was the subject of one of his poems.
“My Darling Amie” – which speaks directly to her, opens with these lines:
“I was ashamed (sic) to write to you for all the wrong I did.”
Referring to himself as “your drifting father”, the central message of the poem involves his belief that despite his problems he had been forgiven by God “who heard me cry last night … and entered into my heart “. Regardless of his perceived identity, Snyder said Frost “had no ID, no birth certificate, no driver’s license.”
Snyder got Frost’s birth certificate and helped him get a stimulus check and tried to find him better accommodation, but the accommodation did not allow dogs. For Frost, who scoured dumpsters for discarded dog food, this was no start.
As for work, Frost feared doing so for fear of losing a small disability income and medical benefits that paid for multiple prescriptions.
“His last six months, he felt bad,” Snyder said. “At one point, I asked our doctor for a home visit. “
The house “looked like something out of a movie,” Snyder said. “I had never seen anything like it.”
Strung with electrical cords everywhere, there was “a bunch of rooms” – including a shared bathroom – and “smelly”.
As Frost entered and left hospitals, Carver and Snyder lost track of him.
“I had to call the family,” Carver said, “and one of his nieces called me back” with the news of Frost’s death.
“I also didn’t know he was dead,” Snyder said.
“I was worried about him for weeks” and after several checks at his home, I saw someone enter the house, knocked on the door and heard the news.
When Snyder wrote a brief post about Frost’s death on Facebook, nearly 900 people shared it.
Some had wondered what had become of him and were at least happy to know it.
One asked if Frost “knew the Lord” and another answered in the affirmative: “He was a humble, kind and beautiful man.
Another said it was “refreshing to know that this man had a legitimate reason to collect” and grateful that people had “listened to help him”. A few mothers posted notes similar to this one: “My daughters learned compassion, empathy and love for our community” from helping Frost and Jake. “They are heartbroken to learn of Roger’s passing.”
“I gave this guy my last 20 dollars one day,” wrote one. “I was living one of the worst of my life and I thought maybe he was too. I knew my day wasn’t going to get better, but I hope his did.
Others wrote that they kept cash or care packages in their cars for Frost and Jake.
Wrote one: “Mr. Frost, your $ will stay in my visor clip.
Frost’s politeness also marked a comment, “He always walked to the car and said, ‘Thank you, ma’am, thank you sir. And, Lordy, how he loved his dog.
“What I found touching,” Snyder said, “was that” everyone mentioned how much they appreciated Roger as a person. How many people he touched.
Snyder found it “interesting how someone could touch other people’s lives – and not even intentionally.”
An article offered an anecdote and a commentary on this precise point.
“I remember a man pulling over to the side in a bad storm and pulling out a raincoat from his trunk and handing it to (Roger). This guy was in a suit but had no qualms about helping this man.
Then came this about the need in others that Frost and Jake filled: “We need these stories to remind us to be human.”
Well, Roger that.