Music will be played, candles will be lit and eulogies will be delivered Sunday for five people whose remains have gone unclaimed in Thurston County.
The third annual Interfaith All Souls Day Service is set for 2 p.m. Sunday at Mills & Mills Funeral Home and Memorial Park, 5725 Littlerock Road SW, Tumwater.
Selena Kilmoyer with Interfaith Works said the program is about remembering the dead before their remains are placed in a mausoleum for the indigent and unclaimed.
“They may have died alone, but we are not allowing them to be forgotten,” she said.
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In some cases, Thurston County Coroner Gary Warnock was unable to find next of kin when the person died; in others, family members chose not to take custody of the remains because they couldn’t afford the cremation fee.
The indigent and unclaimed may have lived full lives, but there’s often little known, except their dates of birth and death.
“That’s the missing piece of this whole puzzle is what happened in that dash” between the birth and death dates, Warnock said. “These people were someone’s brothers, sisters, parents, cousins, friend, and whether they were displaced or they moved from state to state or just never got in touch with their family and friends, that’s all unknown.”
The service will honor:
▪ Virginia M. Belden, 76, who died June 23, 2006, in Yelm.
▪ Paul Petersen, 55, who died Sept. 24, 2007, at Mother Joseph Care Center in Olympia.
▪ Robert G. Visser, 66, who died Jan. 27, 2016, at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia.
▪ Robert P. Eades, 55, who died Oct. 28, 2011, at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia.
▪ Blair Burwell, 63, who was a resident of Quixote Village and died on June 27, 2016.
The service will reflect several different faith communities, and a Spanish altar will be created by volunteers folks from the CIELO Project, a bilingual Latino center in Olympia, Kilmoyer said.
“It’s just very lovely because there are many people who don’t know about the Spanish tradition,” Kilmoyer said.
In addition to the unclaimed remains, the service will acknowledge a long list of people who have committed suicide in Thurston County the past year, Kilmoyer said.
In 2006, the county had 26 suicides. This year, it already has had 46, and is averaging about one a week, Warnock said.
“We’re on track to surpass what we did last year, and if we did, that’s an all-time high for us,” he said.
Kilmoyer said she hopes the service will help alleviate the grief and shame that families sometimes feel as the result of suicide, but also help raise awareness about it and give honor to the lives that were taken.
“This is just a sacred way to say we are all loved and we are all appreciated,” she said.
If you go
Interfaith Works will hold its third annual All Souls Day Service at 2 p.m. Sunday at Mills & Mills Funeral Home and Memorial Park, 5725 Littlerock Road SW, Tumwater. The event, which will include music, eulogies and a litany of the deceased, is open to the public.