Fifty-seven souls whose remains went unclaimed by loved ones for years – sometimes even decades – can finally rest in peace.
On Friday, a graveside service was held at Rural Hill Cemetery in Northville to provide a dignified burial for the cremated remains that have gone unclaimed for years at L.J. Griffin Funeral Home for many years. The group included infants, veterans of the armed services and even included Spanish-American War veteran Norval Marlett, reports the Detroit News.
“We realized we had to do something and we decided to have a ceremony of remembrance,” David Griffin, owner of L.J. Griffin Funeral Home Inc. told the The Detroit News, “It’s our honor to do this service for those who have been forgotten.”
Livonia members of the Myron H. Beals American Legion Post No. 32 served as pallbearers at the Northville ceremony.
“We’ve adopted these forgotten veterans, We’ll continue to honor them on veterans’ holidays and at Christmas,” Linda Roman of Livonia, president of the post’s auxiliary, told The Detroit News.
One of the people laid to rest Friday was Nettie Rutledge, who died at the age of the 61 in 1934. Her remains went unclaimed at the Griffin Funeral Home for 80 years.
The funeral home covered all expenses and sent letters telling families on record of the unclaimed remains. A monument with a list of the names of the deceased will be erected.
There were initially 59 people whose cremated remains had not been claimed, but a few relatives came forward. The remains of Anna Goodwille, who died at the age of 89 in 1986, and Ronald Nowland, who died at the age of 29 in 1990, have been claimed by relatives.
Unclaimed bodies at funeral homes happen frequently, especially during tough economic times. Wayne County’s Medical Examiner had so many unclaimed bodies at one point that they had to find trailers to store them.
David Techner, a funeral director at Ira Kaufman Chapel, told WJBK, Channel 2, “When you have to decide between feeding your children or claiming a body at the morgue, you feed the children.”