Over a thousand onlookers paid their respects to an Army veteran on Tuesday who died with no immediate family after his obituary circulated online.
Edward K. Pearson of Naples, Florida died at age 80 in a local hospice facility. A social worker from the hospice approached Legacy Options Funeral and Cremation Services, asking them to help in looking for Pearson's family.
When the home failed to find anyone related to Pearson, the owners of the funeral service knew they needed to do something.
"We reached out to some of the local veterans' organizations in the county and we said we were afraid that no one would come except for us and the military honors," funeral director Michael Hoyt told CNN.
|Photo Credit: Legacy Options Funeral and Cremation Services|
They posted an obituary on Sunday, complete with the service details of Pearson's funeral, which the funeral home said had gathered over 2,000 comments on their website. Hoyt told CNN they ran the notice in the Naples Daily News, saying the Army veteran passed away and that "there was no family that we knew of."
"It was really enlightening to see social media react in such a positive way," the funeral director said, adding that the response "has been humbling."
The funeral home received a lot of calls from people saying they will attend the funeral, Hoyt said, although they were unsure of the exact number of attendees.
|Photo Credit: Legacy Options Funeral and Cremation Services via CNN|
The funeral director noted that they offer free funeral services to "any indigent or homeless veterans" as a means to give back to the community of Naples.
Pearson served in the Army from February 1962 before being honorably discharged in 1964 and reached the rank of private first class, his discharge papers say. One of his neighbors, also a veteran, requested for Pearson's discharge papers so that he could be buried in a national cemetery, Hoyt said.