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Mesa bike preacher ‘Dizzy’ Disbrow is now wavin’ and shoutin’ on streets of heaven

Posted by on July 6, 2010 – 8:45 pm
Robert Disbrow

Robert Disbrow (Darryl Webb, Tribune)

It is just hard to  believe that Robert “Dizzy” Disbrow is no longer out on the streets of Mesa praising Jesus and shamelessly on fire for the Lord.  A curiosity, a sideshow, a harmless eccentric, Dizzy didn’t care that he was scruffy and loud and, well, just weird.   Most of the regular drivers on East Main Street in the Stapley Drive area were used to Dizzy’s  clowning around for God.

Some thought he was a phony. Some thought his drug and alcohol abuse in earlier parts of his colorful life created a pathetic man who didn’t know about public decorum anymore.  He wasn’t homeless, but some thought he was.

The last feature story I did for the Spiritual Life section of the Tribune (Jan. 3, 2009)  before my layoff  was about him. “‘Dizzy’ For the Lord” was the headline, with a subhead: “Mesa man’s ministry inhabits a busy intersection for God.”   As my weeks with the Tribune counted down, I managed my remaining stories to include one of Dizzy, a guy I had written about a number of times in my years as the Town Crier columnist and religion editor.    Sometimes, it was just about people’s inquiries about Dizzy not being around. (He’d go north to cool off sometimes).

“Downtown Mesa’s street preacher dies at 56″ was the headline on writer Michelle Reese’s story in Sunday’s Tribune. She nicely profiled Dizzy and borrowed  from  my 18-month old story. Dizzy died of cancer about 11:30 a.m. Saturday.   I was glad to see that his much anticipated lump payment from a legal settlement from a 1990 accident with a metal recycler truck had come in and that he could use it to help his family. He would openly talk about joining the Army in his late teens, going to Korea, having a nervous breakdown, and getting on drugs like LSD. “You name it, I did it,” he admitted.

My last story about Dizzy carried this paragraph, “For nearly 17 years, the self-proclaimed ‘entertainer for God’ has been a fixture on his bicycle as he rides up and down East Main Street, constantly gyrating his arms in godly gestures and holding up his wooden cross with a small Bible-banded to it by shoestrings.  The thick-bearded, sun-baked man of alternative hats may be the most recognized person on a Mesa street. He turns heads and causes drivers to roll down their windows to shout a ‘Hey, Dizzy!’ What they get back are assorted gestures of exuberance and whooping words of rejoicing and encouragement.”

In his later years, he did more walking back and cross on the streets of his favorite intersection, rather than  riding his bicycle.  He would give high-fives to other pedestrians in the crosswalks and explode in robust blessings for them.   “All the time, he does ostentatious hand signals that cause drivers to acknowledge him.  And some occasionally give him an obscene gesture to this unsinkable cheerleader for God….”

He would tell drivers not to honk at him. “Give it to God,” he would instruct.  One of his mantras was to shout “FAITH,” — an acronym for Fantastic Adventures in Trusting Him.”  Dizzy confessed that there were days when his enthusiasm waned.  “I get depressed. The devil gets on my mind,” he told me. ”  He said he even lapsed in reading his Bible some days.  “I fail some mornings. I’m not perfect. Nobody’s perfect, except Jesus.”

He called himself a heathen until 1989 when he confronted Christians roasting hot dogs and hamburgers in Mesa’s Pioneer Park. One guy in the group was an old drinking buddy from Tempe days who was “born again.” He was making a lot of sense to Dizzy, who subsequently found a place to stay in Apache Junction, made new friends and got “water baptized.”  Then came the bike accident, recovery, setbacks and drinking, a substance abuse program, confronting his demons, self-renewal and his street-preacher calling. Transformation through rough and tumble.

“I am a sign and a wonder for those who seek God,” he said.  He had more than a few bicycles stolen, but he only had to tell people, and a new bike was found for him.  The one he was riding last year was gotten for $39 from Wal-Mart by a guy who told the story of Dizzy’s street work and apparently got a big discount.

The guy with the transistor radio with headphones, the guy who played  “air guitar” or “air saxophone,” the guy with the series of hand genstures, roars has been silenced by Demon Cancer.

I end this blog with the same words I ended that feature story last year, “‘This is warfare. Jesus is coming very soon, and we have a job to do.’  The house of the Lord, he said, has a door ‘that has been opened for me, Robert Disbrow, and that room is the entertainment room.  I come into this heavenly room and I start entertaining for God.”

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  • richard says:

    Wack Job This is what too much dope and booze will do , but he was a real character

  • William Bodine says:

    I wouldn’t expect anything less from Lawn Griffiths the “Ex Spiritual Life ” Tribune reporter. Yes it’s the same Lawn Griffiths who praises, respects and regards “Dizzy the street preacher” as a legitimate man of God, while at the same time condemns the Catholic and Mormon faiths for their beliefs about priesthood and the sanctity of marriage.

    I have met “Dizzy” and have seen him many times on the corner of Stapley and Main, disrupting traffic, “flipping off” passerby’s and generally showing himself to be the unstable, mentally ill person that he was. Admit it Lawn Griffiths, “Dizzy” was scary and needed mental help!

    What is even more scary is that the Tribune continues to allow Lawn Griffiths a forum in the spiritual section of the newspaper to espouse ultraliberal, anti-biblical and sometimes immoral attacks on the legitimate faiths in Mesa that continue to hold to biblical truths.

    It’s sad that “Dizzy” passed away. I’m sure his family and friends will miss him. It’s sad too that the Tribune continues printing Lawn Griffiths articles disguised as legitimate spiritual beliefs of the people in Mesa.

  • Phoebe says:

    I believe that this man was sent by God to wake up the small-minded people to see a big God. That God is real, He’s loving, that He truly cares at what happens to you and that He will never stop trying to get your attention to show you that He loves you. Thank you my brother Robert for not being ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you are with your Creator now! God is LOVE~

  • Bob Hobbs says:

    Dizzy was my friend.I worked at B&B Chevrolet for 13yrs watching him daily walk right in front of office.One day I saw him walking instead of riding his bike, I asked him why he wasn’t riding, he told me that someone stole his bike.We then went down to Montgomery Wards (1993)and I bought him a brand new 12sp..He loved it!!I moved in 1999 out of state, but when I visited I would always try to track him down.

    My friend R.I.P and I’ll see you soon!!

    Bob Hobbs

  • Diane Brown says:

    Obscene, Disgusting Wack job. Too bad someone did not get him in a hospital for help. It was not enjoyable seeing him on the street giving everyone including children the bird.

  • kita balderrama says:

    i have known dizzy for 18 yrs . i lived in az for 22 i now live in virginia. my fondest memories of dizzy are when he came to our home for thanksgiving dinner ,when he and i attened a phil collins concert together and when he dedicated my youngest son to the lord , right in frontof the dav store on main and stapley ,he held my baby way up in the air and said we dedicate this child in the name of the father the son and the holy ghost amen and yes people were looking at me like i was crazy, that son (jaden) is now 11. all my children john , nikita, ronald and jaden will miss him. we will see you again dear friend again in heaven

  • mike stoker says:

    Make all of the negative comments you want. When you are done drive by Pioneer Park Saturday night and take a look at the crowd.Flip us off if you want. We won’t care because we are there to pay our respects to Dizzy. He was a Mesa treasure and he is missed. I am sure he is dancing with Jesus now. I bet you dollars to donuts he was a lot happier standing on his corner praising Jesus than those of you calling him a wack job will ever be.

  • Lifelong Mesa Resident says:

    No offense intended, but as many times as I had seen him on main & stapley, as many times as I had seen him making obscene & obnoxious gestures towards total strangers, I would never, ever have guessed that he was a “street preacher”? Really? I guess maybe I should have stopped and talked to him, I might have found out differently. All I know is I was more than once turned off & disgusted by some of his oddball antics. More than once I saw him flip off people. How does that coincide with being a street preacher? I could be wrong, but I will add this.
    I respect & appreciate all veterans, but if he was 56 years old, how could he have served in Korea? Didn’t the USA’s involvement in the Korean War end in 1953, 57 years ago? Something just doesn’t add up to me. Maybe he was older than 56, I don’t know.

  • Lawn Griffiths says:

    Regarding whether Dizzy could have served in Korea: He was not a Korean War veteran, just one of the millions of U.S. military who have been stationed in Korea since the 1953 truce. We still have GIs in South Korea.
    As for him flipping off drivers, no one will dispute that. Dizzy was impulsive and emotional. Combined with his mental problems, in part from his substance abuse, he reacted that way. He had his angels and his demons. And we all know folks with both. Dizzy never claimed to be any kind of a saint.

  • Aby says:

    No matter if he was flipping the bird or preaching his love for Jesus, Dizzy has been a part of our lives for as long as I can remember. No matter the weather. My heart was sad this morning when I stopped at the red light and spotted the flowers and read: Diz-z memorial service…. I read the sign outloud and my 7 yr old son hung his head “Dizzy Died Mom?!!” he said. Neither of us knew Dizzy on a personal level, but his familiar face was enough. I always adorned the fact that Dizzy was always looking up! God’s glow was upon him even when he was flippin ppl off. It is people that stole from him, people that judged him and people that looked down their noses at him. I admire Him for letting everyone know how he really felt and not giving shit what anyone thought……because he had God’s light.

    May we all be blessed with a lil’ craziness, free spirited energy and the ability to speak freely as our friend Dizzy did! R.I.P Bro!

  • Debbie says:

    I saw Dizzy over many years down here on Main & Stapley and thought he was crazy and he did scare me even though I was always in a car. I must admit that I marveled at his staying power. Now that I’ve seen this video of him, I understand that even if he had mental problems, he apparently wasn’t afraid of what others thought….including the critics in this comment section. “To each his own” and “Live and let live”. AMEN. GOD DID BLESS DIZZY! Thank you Lawn for the nice article, it’s opened my eyes.

  • Tina says:

    I used to see Dizzy on the streets I grew up in mesa and would see him on his bike and then walking.I asked my brother Robert what happened to him thats when he told me he was hit by a car and then for the longest time I didnt see him but then one day he was back and was walking and dancing..I always admired his singing and dancing.to be honest I thought he was crazy but my brother told me he was preaching. He always made me laugh with his dancing it was just last year i saw him doing the robot and smacking his behind it cracked me up and made my day. We need alot more happy people in this world and not anger and violence, I could see him being rude when there were kids in the car flipping people off my kids would ask why he did that..I just told them he wasn’t right. But I know hes happy now and he did know how to make people smile…Bless you Dizzy wherever you may be and thanks for bringing joy and laughter to Mesa we will miss you… :-)

  • Lifelong Mesa Resident says:

    To Lawn Griffiths, thanks for helping me to understand, and to clarify what I didn’t understand. That’s really all I wanted was to understand a litle more about Diz-z. I think, because of your comments, that I have gained a lot of respect for what he really stood for. Thanks for the information.

    Kevin

  • Cindy Danish says:

    Well no matter what anyones take is on this man, he has passed away. I hope he rests in peace.

  • Joni says:

    Robert Disbrow was not mentally ill although many of you who have commented here seem to think so. Robert was a good and intelligent man, who admitted his faults and weaknesses and turned them over to the Lord.

    Robert could have left Mesa at anytime, but he felt that by staying he and our Lord Jesus Christ would have a greater impact. And, they were right. Many, many people were touched by Robert’s commitment to christianity. Robert was very knowledgeable, he knew the bible, he carried it everywhere. Robert was always willing to pray with you and for you. He disliked off color humor and showed respect to all.

    Robert was especially proud of his daughter Jennifer and grandson Jaden, residents of Massachusetts.
    Robert was proud to have served our country. Robert was happy to have made peace with those in his life he may have once been estranged from, especially his mother who passed on six years ago. Robert flew “home” visiting his siblings and his mother’s gravesite; He renewed his relationship with his daughter.
    Robert wanted to meet his grandson and was able to attend Jaden’s first birthday. With money that Robert received from a settlement relating to an accident many years ago, Robert set up accounts for his heirs. He prayed for his family daily. One of Robert’s hopes and goals was to locate his father, whom he had lived with as a child, in Panama.

    Robert was misunderstood by those who never spoke with him. People refer to him as “flipping” them off, but if asked Robert would tell you that it was satan that he was giving the finger to. When Robert put his finger to his nose he would say that he was “stuck up in love with the Lord.” Robert never said anything offensive when he was speaking with you. He cared for all,and remember your name.

    God blessed us with your presence Robert and now God is blessing you. You will be missed.

  • Keri says:

    I used to think his gestures were obscene too. Then I took a moment and listened to what he was saying. God gave us these fingers, these hands,… it is us who have made the gestures obscene.

    Think about it. What is considered “obscene” is what we have chosen to define it as. For example, in this country it is considered rude to belch. In other countries it is rude NOT to belch, especially after a meal. It is considered a compliment to belch in those countries.

    Yes I know where I live… I am just explaining the concept that not everything is as obscene as you ‘think’ it is.

    Brother Robert’s message about those obscene gestures was basically to explain the obscenity of it was the work of evil (or the devil if you would rather call it that). He was explaining how evil has gotten into our hearts & minds & that we need to rebel against evil.

    The 1st time I ever saw Robert, he scared me & my sister so bad I never wanted to be on main street again. It was an opinion I deeply regret but am SO thankful I took the time to meet Robert, talk to Robert & learn the truth. He was a wonderful man. My family loved him as if he were always a part of our family. My dad & Robert were friends. Robert reminded me of my dad. It helped during the 1st year after my dad died to see a man who looked like my dad & had some of the same religious beliefs.

    If you don’t know… don’t judge.

  • Valery Smith says:

    Shame on all of you who judge this courageous man. I have had many conversations with him. As Joni explained above his gestures were towards the devil. He told me he was “stuck up in love for the Lord”. He wasn’t mentally ill…didn’t need to be hospitalized! He was a intelligent compassionate man. He was doing the work of the Lord. If you would have taken time out of your self righteous hate filled lives, you would have learned who he was.

    I have prayed with him many times. He knew his bible. I asked him once where he attended church, He told me he was in church all the time! I was blessed when he showed up at the memorial service for my husband. He had become a part of our family.

    Mr. Bodine, Robert had no political agenda and this isn’t a forum to air yours. I have a hard time believing you took the time to meet Robert. People who have, speak the same words of who he was and what he was all about. I’m sure he would have prayed with you if you asked him. I am certain he prays for you!
    Well done my brother Robert! I will miss you as will your friends of Mesa. But you are with Jesus now!! How cool is that!!!

  • Kim says:

    What if John The Baptist was just like Diz-z preaching in the wilderness and eating honey comb and fish.
    What if the whole area new John The Baptist ti be the looney who was “flipping everybody off” and preaching about the coming of Jesus Christ. You would probably think he was crazy, right?

    WRONG!!!

  • Rhonda Merritt says:

    I met Dizzy and respected him! He was a brave and kind man. He always had a kind word and he prayed with me during a trying time in my life. He will be missed but I know that when I get to heaven He and his smiling energy will be there too.

  • Chris says:

    I don’t see anything more crazy about a guy walking around an interrsection talking about
    God than I see about “spititual underwear”,or holding dead bodyparts sacred……..

  • Walter Kersting says:

    I knew this man as ‘Evenflow’ from the Pearl Jam song.He was running aroun with no shirt pointing at the sky,showing his underarm hair and man boobs to everyone;we were biting our lips trying not to laugh at him and He’d yell “you kin laugh but yer goin ta hell and I gotta ticket to paradise!” After that I’d roll the window down and say take your shirt off and He’d bend over and shake his rear at me.I just thought his man boobs and underarms were funny,thats all.
    Alot of people in Mesa act very crazy,but I notice they are’nt crazy enough to pick up a hammer or a shovel and participate in a Habitat for Humanity build or donate their time at the hospital or paint over some graffiti or pick up some garbage…..Naw,that’d be too crazy,man!
    But you know what?It’d be the Lord’s work….

  • Michael Yoshi says:

    REST IN PEACE – YOU WERE A SON OF GOD – MAY YOU REST IN HEAVEN AND WHEN I GET THERE I WILL LOOK FOR YOU !!!! SAW YOU MANY MANY TIMES OVER THE LAST 20+ YEARS…..

  • Walter Kersting says:

    I just walked out to take the green barrel in and saw one of my favorite street freaks of Mesa.I know them all by sight,some of them more personally.Mesa has freakier freaks than anywhere and this has made me realise I think about them more than I admit(I secretly wanted to run out on Main street and join Dizzy a time or two;now that the job is open,mmmmm….)

  • belladona says:

    “Dance like nobody is watching”…we’ve all read these words, but not many can actually pull that off, we’re too self-conscious. Dizzy managed to Dance and not care who was watching…sometime he flipped off strangers, and said some pretty raunchy things. Usually if I’m going to cuss and carry on, I do it in private, however, Jesus still sees me and knows and accepts me anyway. I suspect the only difference in any of us so called “normal” people and Dizzy is that he did what he did and said what he wanted regardless of who heard him or who was watching…and the rest of us?? hmmmm, we do the same thing, except we’re probably a bit more two-faced, we hide who we really are and what we feel, and our emotions we try to keep in check at least from most people we come in contact with. But not Dizzy…what you see is what you get. I don’t know if he was “crazy” or “mentally ill”, I don’t really care but I do know he made me laugh and today he’s with Jesus, “dancing like nobody is watching”….rest in peace Dizzy, you were loved!

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