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BY RUTH BROWN Californian staff writer rbrown @bakersfield.com
The six-lanes of White Lane and Gosford Road bring an estimated 67,700 vehicles through the intersection every day, and yet the man who stood dancing on the corner never went unnoticed.
Tammy Rudd, 49, drove past the intersection where Maurice Sneed stood every day, five days a week, for the last two years while he worked as a sign spinner for Little Caesars Pizza.
Sneed died June 8. He was 45.
"He just brightened your day and he would always wave," Rudd said. "He was always dancing around and the biggest thing I remember was his smile. Even though he wasn't in a room, if he was, he would light it up."
She said whenever Sneed waved and smiled it was as if he remembered her, even though hers was just one of the thousands of vehicles passing through that intersection every day.
"It's like when he saw you, he looked right at you and remembered you," she said.
Sneed died of an enlarged heart, something his sister, Shermeka Phair, 40, said was getting progressively worse in the last year-and-a-half. He was found dead in his car.
Sneed moved to Bakersfield at age 9 from San Bernadino and graduated from South High School in 1987.
Phair said he loved meeting new people. Drivers would honk and wave. People would stop and offer him water on hot days and coffee or tea on cold days, she said.
Billy Thompson, Sneed's brother, said even after his brother was diagnosed with the heart condition, he wanted to continue working.
"I look at the people who knew him and know it brightened their day to see him waving," said Thompson, 55.
Prior to working for the take-out pizza restaurant, Sneed was an armed security guard at federal buildings throughout Bakersfield until diagnosed with his heart condition at age 35.
Phair described her brother as someone with a great sense of humor, a soft-spoken, gentle, Christian man. He loved Hawaii, Bruce Lee movies, coin collecting and cartoons.
He will be buried in Historic Union Cemetery next to his mother, Phair said.
Visitation will be 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Rucker's Mortuary, 301 Baker St. Services will be 10 a.m. Friday at the California Avenue Church of Christ.