Florida

This veteran had no family to bury him. He won’t be laid to rest alone

EDITOR’S NOTE, Oct. 1, 2019: More than 4,000 people attended Mr. Pearson’s funeral. Here is a link to our story.

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It was a small obituary for Edward K. Pearson, 80, that appeared in a local newspaper recently.

It simply said he was going to be interred at Sarasota National Cemetery on Tuesday and that, “This veteran has no immediate family and all are welcome to attend.”

The obituary soon hit social media and the response has been overwhelming as hundreds of people who have never met Pearson are pledging to attend the veteran’s funeral.

“I’ve certainly never seen anything like this,” said Legacy Options funeral director Michael Hoyt. “It’s good to know people are coming to support this veteran who has served and probably don’t even know him.”

Hoyt said the funeral home has received calls from all over the from people who want to attend, including from one person from Canada. Others have called just to offer emotional support.

Pearson served in the U.S. Army from 1962-1964 and was honorably discharged. According to public records, he went on to become an engineer and worked for Marriott Hotel Services Inc.

Hoyt said no family ever claimed the remains, but that ultimately a good friend of his made the arrangements for the Sarasota National Cemetery knowing that Pearson was a veteran.

Services begin at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Pearson will be interred with full military honors and will likely be sent off with many strangers taking the time to pay their respects.

The cemetery is located at 9810 SR 72 in Sarasota.

Part of what made Pearson’s obituary viral was a tweet sent out by CNN’s Jake Tapper and the news that a veteran was about to be laid to rest with no one in attendance soon sprawled across the nation.

Pearson will no doubt be laid to rest on behalf of a grateful community and on behalf of a grateful nation.

Breaking News/Real Time Reporter Mark Young began his career in 1996 and has been with the Bradenton Herald since 2014. He has won more than a dozen awards over the years, including the coveted Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting from the Florida Press Club and for beat reporting from the Society for Professional Journalists to name a few. His reporting experience is as diverse as the communities he covers.
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