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Sister of man found dead in Florence field recalls ‘good guy’

  • Northampton Police and members of the State Medical Examiner's office investigate what they say appears to be an unattended death in an area by  the Mill River near the intersection of Meadow and Corticelli streets July 2.<br/>Gazette File Photo

    Northampton Police and members of the State Medical Examiner's office investigate what they say appears to be an unattended death in an area by the Mill River near the intersection of Meadow and Corticelli streets July 2.
    Gazette File Photo Purchase photo reprints »

  • Northampton Police and members of the State Medical Examiner's office investigate what they say appears to be an unattended death in an area by  the Mill River near the intersection of Meadow and Corticelli streets July 2.<br/>Gazette File Photo

    Northampton Police and members of the State Medical Examiner's office investigate what they say appears to be an unattended death in an area by the Mill River near the intersection of Meadow and Corticelli streets July 2.
    Gazette File Photo Purchase photo reprints »

  • Northampton Police and members of the State Medical Examiner's office investigate what they say appears to be an unattended death in an area by  the Mill River near the intersection of Meadow and Corticelli streets July 2.<br/>Gazette File Photo
  • Northampton Police and members of the State Medical Examiner's office investigate what they say appears to be an unattended death in an area by  the Mill River near the intersection of Meadow and Corticelli streets July 2.<br/>Gazette File Photo

It wasn’t until her late brother was characterized as “homeless” by the Northwestern district attorney’s office that she got angry, however.

“This is not some homeless bum who didn’t do anything,” Cote said. “He was my brother, he was my mother’s child.”

Lumbis, 62, was found dead in a field behind Meadow Street on July 3.

Cote, 61, of Springfield, said that contrary to the information released to the media by the district attorney’s office, her brother resided in Holyoke with Marie Giguere, another sister.

Cote said her brother was an insulin-dependant diabetic who would sometimes leave the house for up to a month at a stretch to get some alone time.

“He liked to avoid noise and the hustle and bustle of people,” Cote said.

She said that’s why no one worried when Leo hadn’t been heard from for weeks after leaving Holyoke on June 3.

Lumbis’ body was found at a small makeshift campsite in the field and appeared to have been there for about three weeks, police said.

“We’re all saddened by his death, but we’re relieved knowing,” Cote said.

Cote said Lumbis, who would have turned 63 in August, was the seventh of 11 children and the second-youngest boy.

Lumbis never married or had children, Cote said, but did have a longtime companion who died about 20 years ago.

She said his diabetes caused physical problems that prevented him from entering the military like three of his brothers, and made holding down a full-time job difficult.

Lumbis supplemented his disability checks by taking odd jobs around the area, including assisting with the landscaping at the now-closed Aqua Vitae restaurant in Hadley.

She said he had a natural aptitude for engines and could “fix anything with a motor.” Cote said her brother’s health had been in decline for years and said he had lived longer than most people, including his doctors, thought he would. She said her brother, during their last conversation in December 2012, acknowledged as much.

She said their father died of complications from diabetes at the age of 41.

Lumbis had surgery earlier this year that helped his mobility, and that made his regular trips to Bird’s Store in Florence for his pipe tobacco a bit easier, Cote said.

Cote, a nurse, said that while the state coroner hasn’t established a cause of death, she suspects it was complications from his diabetes, aggravated by the extreme heat, that caused his death.

“He shouldn’t have gone alone,” she said.

Part of a statement released by the family reads, “Though we are saddened by his death, at the same time we are relieved to know he no longer suffers and his soul is at peace.”

Cote said, based on his declining health and her last conversation with him, she suspects he may have known he was dying and wanted to choose the place where it would happen.

“He liked boats and the water and nature,” Cote said. “That’s the way we want to remember him. He was a good guy.”

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