Faith salvaged

Tue, 01/20/2009 - 4:31pm
By: John Munford

Employees reunited deceased’s ashes with relative

Employees of a local salvage yard went out of their way to track down relatives of a deceased man whose remains were found in a wrecked truck.

The remains of Charles Meredith were returned to his brother in law, Leon Jordan Monday as M&S Auto Parts employees made the delivery themselves at Jordan’s Decatur home.

“It went really well ... the guy was overjoyed,” said M&S employee Roosevelt Thompson.

The story began last week when Thompson and Clay McCart were going through the inventory with owner Mike Bell. In the bed of the wrecked truck they found a black box with the deceased’s name on it, and also the name of the crematory.

Office manager Barbara Reich was tasked with helping track down a relative, and she started by calling Premier Crematory, where employee Ray Wilson was able to provide phone numbers of two people who signed for the remains in 2003; he also knew that Meredith was 82 years old when he died, and also that he was a veteran. Both phone numbers turned out to be disconnected, and a call to the funeral home was of no help either, Reich said.

Undeterred, the staff took down the vehicle identification number and ran it to get more information on the previous owner. That led to another company that was able to provide some information that led directly to a relative, Reich said.

“Everybody was working together to try and figure out what to do,” Reich said. “... He has to belong to somebody.”

Once the relative was located, M&S decided to go the “extra mile” and personally deliver the remains to the relative in Decatur.

It turns out that Mr. Meredith’s remains were in the truck because it was wrecked soon after another family member’s funeral, Thompson said. The family thought they had retrieved it from the crashed truck but the box somehow stayed with the truck through the auto auction process.

It’s common to find other items in wrecked vehicles, such as screwdrivers, sunglasses and other items which often are broken, Reich said. And a staffer at the crematory informed her that misplaced remains happens more often than one would think as well-meaning relatives intending to spread the ashes somewhere might lose track of the box, perhaps selling a piece of furniture that it was put in.

In Mr. Meredith’s case, thanks to the work of the M&S employees, reunification with a relative was a success.

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