ST. CHARLES – John Nelson, senior pastor at Hosanna! Lutheran Church, usually knows something about the lives of the individuals whose memorial services he presides over.
Thursday, he knew less about the 41 people whose cremated remains had been abandoned on a dusty shelf at the Kane County Coroner’s Office.
“For these people, we don’t even have a sentence,” Nelson said to a small crowd gathered inside the North Cemetery mausoleum in St. Charles.
The 15-minute nondenominational memorial service and interment was not only for the 41 remains Kane County Coroner Rob Russell hoped to reunite with their next of kin but it also was for remains left at the cemetery and Yurs Funeral Home. In total, 161 cremains – a term for cremated remains – were given a final resting place.
“We know that even though the cremains of these saints of St. Charles have gone unclaimed by family and friends, you [God] claim them as your own,” Nelson said.
Russell, who was elected in November, announced in March that the remains of 47 deceased people were being stored in his office storage unit.
He encouraged next of kin to claim them.
Six cremains were claimed, the coroner said, noting that was more than he had expected.
A father was reunited with the remains of his 2-month-old child, 26 years after his child’s sudden death, and another set was shipped to next of kin in Australia.
With help from St. Charles Township Supervisor John Arthur Anderson, a proper resting place was found for other cremains: an 8-foot deep crypt in North Cemetery. It will be covered by an unmarked piece of marble, Anderson said.
Although the crypt has space for more cremated remains, Russell said he aims not to have any more unclaimed cremains, especially with tools such as www.unclaimedpersons.org.
Russell thanked the few people who attended Thursday’s service, noting how nobody wanted to claim these individuals’ remains.
“Today, we are that someone else,” he said.
Some of the cremains belonged to known prostitutes and those who were homeless, Russell said, but he said it doesn’t matter how they lived their lives.
“Respect goes to everybody,” he said. “Today, we right what was wrong.”
A list of those interred Thursday is available at the Kane County Coroner’s Office, North Cemetery and Yurs Funeral Home.
Next of kin will be able to claim the remains if desired.