On a quiet weekend afternoon a couple of weeks ago, neighbors on Evelyn Avenue in West Berkeley heard a commotion.
Police had arrived, there was shouting, and two brothers, Darryl Patrick, 58, and William “Bill” Patrick, 62, who had grown up and lived all their lives in the small stucco house at 1206 Evelyn Ave. were being forcibly removed, evicted to the street outside.
It was the second time in a year that the brothers, who both have some level of disability, have been kicked out of their childhood home. They are embroiled in a legal battle over the sale of the house, which once belonged to their mother. Carmel Patrick died five years ago, apparently without a will, forcing her estate into probate. Now her son-in-law, the court-appointed estate administrator, is seeking to sell the property to distribute funds to Carmel Patrick’s heirs.
The two brothers have nowhere to go. During the August eviction, neighbors rushed over to the find out what was going on and asked the police and the eviction lawyer to at least let Darryl and Bill stay temporarily in a defunct family RV parked on the street. This has been their home since, with no water, electricity or sewage line.
A third brother, Frederick “Fritz” Patrick, 63, was also named in the eviction order but was at Alta Bates Hospital, where he’s been off and on over the past year with a serious medical condition.
“They’ve lived all their lives in that house on that street and it’s traumatic and utterly disorienting for them to be evicted from the house,” said Osha Neumann, supervising attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center, who is a well-known homeless advocate, and one of those assisting the brothers.
Neighbors taking care of Bill and Darryl Patrick
While the administrator of the estate said he wants to sell the house and distribute the proceeds to the three brothers and other heirs, the recent eviction was abrupt, according to Doug Walters, who has lived next door to the house for 23 years.
“I was shocked,” Walters said.
“Whatever they were doing for the family was not taking into account that these two gentlemen are at risk of being thrown into a situation where they might not have the capacity to handle it,” said Walters. “They knew they had nowhere else to go.”
Surrounded by a tall hedge, and showing signs of age, the house was purchased by the Patricks in 1953, according to the deed. Darryl, Bill, and Fritz have lived their entire lives there. Two other Patrick brothers, and their father, Robert, are deceased.
Fritz Patrick, who said he’s trying to fix up the house, looks out for his younger brothers, he said from the hospital. “I’m kinda big brother, mom and daddy at the same time.”
Annette Patrick-Olsen, the brother’s only sister, died two years ago. She lived in Grass Valley. After his wife’s death, Michael Olsen successfully petitioned the court to be appointed administrator of Carmel Patrick’s estate, which consists of the house.
Fritz Patrick legally challenged Mike Olsen’s appointment as administrator of his mother’s estate, a fight he considers far from over. “It’s ridiculous,” he said. Decisions about his mother’s estate belong to him, Darryl, and Bill, he said, her surviving first degree heirs.
He also legally objected to the eviction, but lost in court.
Olsen has been seeking the brothers’ evictions in order to sell the house as quickly as possible, according to his probate attorney, Neil Rones. The three brothers will receive one-quarter each of Carmel Patrick’s estate, which consists solely of the Evelyn Avenue house. Olsen will get some amount, Rones said.
Annette Patrick-Olsen had three children, who aren’t related to Mike Olsen, and how they factor into the inheritance isn’t clear from court records.
“The faster we can [sell], the most we can do for the three brothers who I understand are in poor health,” said Rones, who said he has never met the Patrick brothers. “Our sole goal is to follow the rules that are set out in the codes and sell the property for the most we can get so the heirs get the most benefit they can get from the estate. We don’t want to cause them any harm or delay; our goal is to complete the probate as quickly as we can.”
A different attorney, Richard Palenchar, was hired to handle the evictions. Palenchar hadn’t responded to a message left by Berkeleyside by press time.
The brothers were first served eviction papers in May and forced out. They lived mainly in cars, both parked and on road trips, with stays along the way in hospitals and board and care facilities due to medical needs.
After a car accident near Ukiah in early summer, Darryl and Bill found their way back to Berkeley and Evelyn Avenue, breaking into the family house to live there.
When evicted in August, they had no operable cars to use, and no phones.
Neighbors stepped in. The RV became their temporary home. Even this is by the grace of the Berkeley Police and the lawyer handling the eviction, Walters said, as the RV is supposed to be off-limits to the brothers, entangled in the same legal estate issues as the house. It also has an expired registration.
Neighbors are bringing the brothers food and water. They’re loaning them phones and allowing them to take showers.
“Our goal is to keep them safe and to find safe harbor for them,” said Neumann. “All of our efforts are directed there. It’s not viable for them to keep living on the street in a lawn chair or in an RV that doesn’t have electricity or toilet facilities.”
“We’re still trying to figure out what happened legally and it’s hard,” said Andrea Henson, a neighbor who volunteers at the East Bay Community Law Center and works with Neumann.
Henson called the efforts of the neighborhood amazing. “I do not know what would have happened to these brothers if the neighborhood did not rally around them. Our neighborhood demonstrates the spirit of Berkeley.”
All three of the Patrick brothers receive Social Security for adults with disabilities or the low-income elderly, and are on Medi-Cal, Fritz said.
On visits last week, Darryl and Bill greeted a reporter a bit shyly and politely. Bill, with clear blue eyes, a tanned face and full grey beard, sat in a sidewalk lawn chair, calming the barking “Little Bear,” his scruffy canine companion. Darryl, dark-eyed with grey hair, stayed in the RV, attentive to the conversation, weighing in now and then.
Both men attended Berkeley public schools, they said. Bill worked as a cook at Indian restaurants on Solano Avenue and in San Francisco, and as a security guard. Darryl said he used to deliver pianos for Berkeley’s venerable music store, Tupper Reid. The family attended St. Ambrose Church, around the corner on Gilman Street.
Fritz said he also worked in security and at restaurants. He says he has an entrepreneurial streak, with business ideas.
Their father, Robert, an American Harvester truck mechanic, was divorced from their mother for years, but got back together with her, living at the house when he died.
Darryl and Bill both spoke of their health and emotional problems, past and present.
“We’re just trying to get by right now after being evicted from our house,” Bill said, with a slight smile. “2019 is a real weird year for sure. It is. It’s really weird for me. I do kind of resent it, I do,” he said.
“I don’t like the situation very much,” Darryl said. “I get kind of angry and I’d like to get the house back. It’s not very good at all. I’m on stand by.”
Correction: This story was updated after publication with some name corrections.