A tender memorial has cropped up in an unusual place -- a parking space at the Sharon Heights Shopping Center.
Peter Wadri Worogga, a 29-year-old Portola Valley man, was found dead in his car last month. Last week, his widow, Mary des Jardins, set out a bouquet of white roses, candles and a sign lamenting the loss of her husband. A stream of curious onlookers ventured over to the cordoned-off parking space.
Mr. Worogga died of heatstroke in his car on May 8, and his death was ruled accidental, said San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault. He said he didn't believe Mr. Worogga was there for more than 24 hours before his body was discovered, he said.
"He could have fallen asleep. It was hot," said Mr. Foucrault.
Ms. des Jardins said her husband had been suffering from undiagnosed stomach pain, and she thought that may have been what caused him to pass out behind the wheel.
A native of Uganda, Mr. Worogga had moved to Portola Valley in September and was a student at Foothill College. The two had been married only four months, Ms. des Jardins said.
"He wanted to get a degree in international communications," she told the Almanac. "He wanted to hopefully, someday, be an ambassador for his country."
Ms. des Jardins said she returned home from a business trip on May 6 and reported her husband missing to the Menlo Park police.
On the memorial sign, Ms. des Jardins wrote, "My dear, sweet husband Wadri died in this space and waited 2 days for the police to find him … nobody noticed. Please God/Goddess/All That Is, help us to wake up and pay attention."
The pair met at a documentary photography workshop in Uganda in 2005, she said. Ms. des Jardins is the executive director for Outside the Dream, a nonprofit helping 70 AIDS orphans and former child soldiers in Uganda, she said. In January, they married in his home village of Arua, near the Congolese border, she said.
Mr. Worogga was the eldest son of a village elder, and he had studied journalism in Sweden, South Africa and London, Ms. des Jardins said. Mr. Worogga was a former photojournalist for the Daily Monitor, a newspaper based in Kampala, Uganda. Besides Ms. des Jardins, he is survived by his parents, six siblings, and three sons, all living in Uganda.
"A few months ago we had read and discussed two different cases where a person had died in their homes and gone unnoticed for over a year. Wadri shared that that would never have happened in Ugandan culture, due to its close social and family networks, " Ms. des Jardins said.
"How synchronistic that the very situation we had read and discussed ended up becoming part of his story. It is my hope that this serves as a reminder for us all to slow down and pay attention to those around us as we move through our day."