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A box containing the ashes of Lee Thompson Jr. was found last week at Folly Beach, S.C.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
The people working around Folly Beach in South Carolina have seen all kinds of things wash up on shore. But earlier this month something truly unusual was found resting in the sand.
The boxed remains of Lee Jackson Thompson, who was cremated in Roanoke in 2010, were found by Charleston County lifeguards while they were on duty.
“We’ve had some weird things, even a couple of dead bodies wash up, but this is the most interesting thing I’ve ever seen,” said Emily Jackson, the operations manager at Charleston County Parks and Recreation.
An obituary in The Roanoke Times for Thompson, of Roanoke and formerly of Moneta, said he died at age 48 on May 28, 2010, and that a funeral service was held on June 4, 2010, at Morgans Baptist Church in Moneta.
Jackson said the container with the remains weighed little, looked like a shoe box and had a label on it with Thompson’s name and that of Lotz Funeral Home. She said no one could tell what was inside because it was sealed shut. After two days, officials at the parks and recreation department called the funeral home.
Funeral home director David Williams said he contacted Thompson’s sister, who was listed as next of kin, about the remains. Williams said the sister asked him not to divulge her name, but she told him she had given the remains to her nephew about four months ago and hadn’t contacted him since then.
Williams said the remains probably could not have been in the water for too long because the label was legible. He said this is the first time he has heard of this “specific type of thing” happening.
Once the family gets the remains, they decide what to do with them.
Williams said the remains are usually handed over in a plastic container with a snap-on lid and people often need a tool to open it. Sometimes, he said, families can’t open the box and toss the whole thing into the sea instead of just the ashes.
“Cremated remains are heavy,” Williams said, typically the weight and shape of a 5-pound bag of sugar. “They are not like fireplace ashes.”
Williams said he believes Thompson’s sister will retrieve the remains. Jackson said people in her office have been in contact with the family about returning them. She said the family seemed to have a sense of humor about the situation.
As of Tuesday, the cremated remains were still in Jackson’s office at Folly Beach and will probably stay there until the family retrieves them. Jackson said the office doesn’t mind.
The Associated Press
contributed to this report.
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