Man finds brother's ashes that were lost for 58 years
The infant brother's remains had been left at the funeral home.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- After years of making his way through a maze of medical records, family correspondence and cemetery maps, a man found the remains of his infant brother who died almost 60 years ago.
Now, Ken Ward says he hopes to organize a family reunion that will include a graveside service for his baby brother, Terrance, who died in 1947. It turns out the infant's unclaimed ashes were held for decades at an Ann Arbor funeral home.
Ward, a retired sales manager who lives in Cary, Ill., was 2 when his brother died while the family was living in Ann Arbor. A coroner's report said the 2-month-old infant possibly died of asphyxiation. Ward said he believes the cause was sudden infant death syndrome, which was not recognized at the time.
By the time his mother died in 2003, he had begun searching for his brother's grave to see that it was cared for and list it in the family genealogy.
Two years into Ward's search, Michigan's vital records office located documents indicating Terrance's body had been cremated and returned to Muehlig Funeral Chapel, not interred in a Detroit cemetery as was previously thought.
Funeral home staffer Rebecca Peltier, sifting through records dating back to 1852, found a document that indicated the ashes were never picked up despite attempts to reach the Wards, who had moved shortly after Terrance died.
She and another staffer went into the basement vault, which had boxes holding dozens of sealed containers. Within 20 minutes, they found a box marked "Ward."
Ward and his wife, Barbara, took Terrance's remains to Cincinnati to give the baby a proper burial next to his mother.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.