NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Bronx present and past was Morgan Powell’s life. His day job was gardening, but his passion was history, researching, and sharing his discoveries.

“His tours were free, giving everyone an opportunity to learn about themselves,” said Angel Hernandez of the Bronx Historical Society. “So friendly; so personable; popular.”

“Most of the time, research like this is done by professors or by people who have gotten grants to do it,” added Mark Naison, professor of African-American studies and history at Fordham University. “He did this all on his own.”

About a year ago, Naison said Powell came to him.

“And he said he was planning to leave the city, and so he wanted to make sure that all the research he had done was preserved,” Naison said.

Naison took the documents, thinking in the back of his head how odd it sounded from someone so tied to his home.

“I’ve gone over in my mind – why didn’t I push him harder?” Naison said. “But I didn’t. I feel bad about it, to put it mildly.”

On Sept. 29, Powell’s body was found floating offshore from Red Hook, Brooklyn. Three weeks later, the New York City Medical Examiner’s office still did not know the cause of his death.

And for a man so devoted to history, death has revealed a fuzzy past.

“It is an irony that, you know, all the people he knew and all the information he had, no one is willing to step out and say, ‘Hey, he was a family member of mine,’” Hernandez said.

“I feel terrible for him that he didn’t have a family that was willing to claim him, but he has his Bronx family,” Naison said.

Some of Powell’s friends have set up a fund to bury him at a place he loved – Woodlawn Cemetery.

“I have no doubt that, you know, people will meet the financial targets to do that,” Naison said. “I don’t know many people who were as loved as he is; as he was.”

“And I hope he will be remembered for more generations to come,” Hernandez added.

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