Florida funeral home giving free funeral to veteran with no family

After no family members came forward, a funeral home in Florida stepped in to help a veteran who passed away.

Edward K. Pearson of Naples died on August 31 and he had no immediate family members, the obituary said. He was 80 years old.

When a social worker approached Legacy Options Funeral and Cremation Services, the owners said they knew they had to do something.

“One of our ways of giving back to the community of Naples is we offer free funeral services to any indigent or homeless veterans,” funeral director Michael Hoyt told CNN on Monday.

Pearson’s discharge papers say he served in the Army and reached the rank of private first class, according to the funeral home. He served from February 1962 and was honorably discharged in 1964.

One of Pearson’s neighbors, also a veteran, requested his discharge papers so Pearson could be buried in a national cemetery, Hoyt said.

“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,” Hoyt said.

The obituary ran on Sunday and already more than 2,000 people commented on their website, the funeral home said.

“We put a small notice in the Naples Daily News stating that he had passed away and there was no family that we knew of,” Hoyt said. “It was really enlightening to see social media react in such a positive way.’

As a family-run business, Hoyt said “seeing that response has been humbling.”

The funeral home is not sure how many people will attend, but Hoyt said a lot of people have been calling and saying they will come.

News of his funeral services were shared widely on social media, including by CNN’s Jake Tapper.

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Department responded to Tapper’s tweet, saying “our guys & girls in green will be there” in a tweet on Monday.

The Sarasota Police Department also chimed in. “We appreciate everyone who has tagged us, private messaged us & reached out via social media to let us know about this!” the department posted on Facebook.

The funeral service will be on Tuesday, October 1, at 12:30 p.m. at Sarasota National Cemetery. Pearson will receive military honors, the funeral home said.

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