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Funeral director invites everyone to free funeral for 80-year-old veteran with no immediate family

Edward Pearson

Edward Pearson

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

Edward Pearson of Naples died on Aug. 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 said.

Pearson’s discharge papers said he served in the Army and reached the rank of private first class, Hoyt said. 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 by Monday, more than 2,000 people commented on their website, funeral officials 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.”

Officials weren’t sure how many people would attend, but Hoyt said a lot of people had been calling and saying they would come.

News of his funeral services was shared widely on social media.

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

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