Saturday, August 18, 2007

Journalist's ashes held hostage

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist Jim Stingl is doing his part to put to rest the remains of former Milwaukee Sentinel employee Lisle Lester, whose possible ashes are being held in hock by a crematory in Queens, New York for $5,000.

The plight of Lester, who died in June 1888 with no next of kin, has been taken up by Jack Copet, a history buff and the former publications coordinator at the Fond du Lac County Historical Society. "It just keeps nagging at me. I'd want that final resting place. This poor woman never got it," Copet says. Copet contacted Stingl in the hopes that some publicity would jump start the efforts to have Lester's ashes returned to the Rienzi Cemetery in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where Lester's parents are buried.

Stingl spoke to a funeral director, as well as the spokesman for the National Funeral Directors Association, which is based in nearby Brookfield, and both were skeptical about the cost, with one saying he couldn't imagine what the crematory is charging for. There also remains the very real question of whether the ashes are truly those of Lester.


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