November 15, 2009 in Idaho Voices

Forgotten remains get burial rites

By The Spokesman-Review
 

BOISE – The 12 North Idaho veterans whose remains were recently interred with ceremony at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery hadn’t necessarily been forgotten, but their cremated remains had.

The remains sat for years – in one case, for 36 years – on a shelf in a back room at Shoshone Funeral Service in Kellogg. But now they’ve been placed at the veterans cemetery with full military honors and a formal flag-folding ceremony, as part of the Missing In America Project.

The project tries to locate and recover the remains of veterans and their spouses that have been lost or forgotten and provide them with a proper military burial at the veterans cemetery. It’s a national project, but it started here, when the Idaho veterans cemetery placed the cremated remains of 21 veterans in November 2006. To date, the remains of 70 Idaho veterans and five spouses have been interred through the project at the veterans cemetery near Boise.

At the Nov. 6 ceremony, solemn and dampened by rain, members of each branch of the armed forces participated in the flag-folding ceremony and presentation, an Army bugler played taps, and Marines offered a rifle salute.

The cremated remains included those of Alfred T. Slawson, a World War I veteran who died in 1973, and fellow World War I veteran Harry Nelson, who died in 1974 at the age of 82. Others served in World War II and other conflicts.

Lonny Duce, owner of Shoshone Funeral Service, said it’s common for funeral homes to keep unclaimed cremated remains. “Just about any place that operates in the funeral business has got unclaimed sitting on their shelves someplace,” he said. He estimated that his funeral home has about 80. “I think the oldest one we have is from back in 1939,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean those people weren’t remembered with funeral services at the time of their deaths and cremation. “A lot of times, these are ones that the families had services for but wanted to come back later to pick the ashes up and just never did,” Duce said.

In those cases, funeral homes hold onto the remains and often continue to try to contact family members. “Just out of respect for the person that has died, the funeral home doesn’t really do anything with those except hold them and hope that sometime a family member will come in and search for them and want to pick them up,” Duce said.

It happens. Last spring, he heard from a woman who thought her grandmother’s ashes might still be at the funeral home. “I got the name, said ‘Do you know these other people of the same name?’ and it turned out there were three in the family still here,” Duce said. “So she came in and made arrangements to have those placed in the cemetery.”

Duce said he appreciates the Missing In America Project. “I think it’s a good and respectful thing to do for their comrades, so I was more than happy to help them and let these people have a proper burial.”

Former rep gets lobbying gig

Washington, D.C. lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck is touting its newest addition of “top tier talent to its growing government relations group,” namely former Idaho Congressman Larry LaRocco. LaRocco, who previously had his own public affairs and lobbying firm, LaRocco & Associates, will be a policy director for the group, based in Washington, D.C., with a focus on financial services and natural resources.

When he represented Idaho’s 1st Congressional District in Congress from 1991 to 1995, LaRocco, a Democrat, served on the financial services and natural resources committees. “Larry’s experience as a member of Congress coupled with his deep relationships and extensive knowledge of Capitol Hill make him a significant addition to our firm,” said Al Mottur, managing partner of the lobbying firm’s Washington, D.C., office.

LaRocco called the move “a natural next step in my career” and said, “I look forward to working with the firm’s experienced team of policy advisers on these constantly evolving and game-changing issues.” The Brownstein firm says it’s “ranked among the fastest growing and top lobbying firms in Washington, D.C.”; it was founded in 1968 and employs a “bipartisan team” of nearly 240 attorneys and legislative consultants that “works to secure the client’s best interest in areas such as energy and environment, telecommunications and financial services.”

Fired director ‘excelled’

Fired Idaho Transportation Director Pam Lowe’s wrongful termination lawsuit against the state includes this quote from Lowe’s last performance evaluation: “Mrs. Lowe has quickly taken charge of the Department. She excelled in reviewing the conditions of the department’s functions and making needed changes in personnel, functions, and organization. … She identified over $50 million in savings that will be directed to improved highway operations. Mrs. Lowe is an excellent manager and has exceptional ability as a professional engineer. In this rating period she has completed all assignments made by the Transportation Board.”


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