Forgotten Lives Remembered in Special Funeral Service

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SCRANTON -- A Memorial Day tradition may grow out of a funeral held Thursday in Lackawanna County for a dozen people whose remains have gone unclaimed at the county morgue.

Several Scranton Prep students are members of a newly formed service group. It's an unusual service for teens to provide. They help plan funerals for those who can't afford them.

"I reached out to (Lackawanna County coroner) Tim Rowland and I said, 'do you have something for us to do?'" Corey Henfling, Scranton Prep's Dean of Students said.

Rowland did have something for the students to do.  Memorial Day is almost here and the Lackawanna County morgue had the remains of 12 unclaimed people.

"I was expecting a couple, or maybe none at all, but when he said that there were 10 plus I was a little bit surprised," Henfling added.

"The cremated remains would literally sit at our facility forever; there was somebody in that group that was there from 2011," Tim Rowland added.

So, the Scranton Prep students gave them the funeral they deserved.

Those laid to rest are:

John Iveli, of Scranton
Scott Martin, of Scranton
George Frew, of Scranton
Willie Whitehead, of Scranton
John Belgard, of Scranton
Nylma Cruz, of Scranton
Martin Pemp, of Scranton
Rod Weisel, of Scranton
Margaret Alu, of Pittston
Brian Jenning, of Scranton
Nino Infante, of Waymart
Donald Smith, of Scranton

"It's definitely something that makes you want to go out and be an agent of change in your community so that nobody does go unnoticed," said junior student Katherine Neville.

"These kids really should be experiencing this as part of their life and as they go on into society, that we can't treat people indignantly and there's always a place to do the right thing. And I think this was the best example of doing the right thing," Rowland added after the service.

The urns will eventually be taken to a final resting place.  The Diocese of Scranton donated room at St. Catherine's Cemetery in Covington Township.

The 12 people will be interred there some time after Memorial Day.

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