A man from whatever American city he happened to be in on a given day, Zack Featherly was born Aug. 27, 1984, and died from an overdose of carfentanyl on May 9, in Chattanooga, Tenn.
An itinerant drifter, or “traveler,” for most of his life, he lived in the Twin Cities numerous times over the years, including several extended stints living with his father, Kevin Featherly, and his stepmother, Tammy Nelson, both of Bloomington, who survive him.
Zack also is survived by his mother, Jane Vallie Amdahl, stepfather, Jerry Amdahl, both of Mesa, Ariz., and brother Nathan, of Lake Hallie, Wis., along with numerous maternal and fraternal uncles, aunts, nieces and cousins. He was preceded in death by his four biological grandparents.
Zack, known on the street as “Zito,” was unmarried and had no children. As a heavily tattooed panhandler and alcoholic, he was invisible, vaguely offensive or frightening to many people who encountered him. To those who knew him, he was a larger-than-life force–funny, charismatic, big-hearted, enigmatic, confounding, poetic, obscene, beautiful.
He was a talented, highly creative musician and songwriter who might have become a star had he figured out how to secrete himself and a drumkit onto open boxcars. Despite many desperate attempts by his family and friends to secure him treatment and housing and to guide him toward sobriety and serenity, the streets and rails proved too beguiling and he could not make the final leap into a new life.
The tragedy of his loss is intense; despite his flaws, Zack was an adored and admired human being. Donations in his memory may be sent to NAMI Minnesota. A private family memorial service is being planned for later this summer.