Photo by Haley Ausbun. Hundreds of people who passed away without family to bury them were remembered Wednesday, July 10, at the King County Medical Examiner’s Office Indigent Remains Ceremony at Mount Olivet Cemetery.

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Hundreds of people who passed away without family to bury them were remembered Wednesday, July 10, at the King County Medical Examiner’s Office Indigent Remains Ceremony at Mount Olivet Cemetery.

Left behind but not forgotten — county buries indigent remains

Funeral for those left with the medical examiner held in Renton

302 people in King County were laid to rest, unforgotten.

Wednesday, July 10 at Mount Olivet cemetery, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office (KCMEO) honored people who died from 2016 to 2018 who were indigent: people whose families did not claim their remains or could not provide a proper burial. Representatives of several denominations offered burial rites.

“For reasons unknown, these individuals have died without family to bury them,” said James Sosik, lead of the KCMEO indigent remains program, at the ceremony. “Yet they will not pass from life forgotten, without dignity.”

James Sosik of the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.

James Sosik of the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The headstone reads: “GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN THESE PEOPLE OF KING COUNTY JULY 2019.”

Several representatives of local organizations attended, as well as community members and representative of Mary’s Place and Women in Black, that honors the lives of homeless individuals who die in King County. Some attendees knew those who passed, including one woman who held photos that she brought with her of her loved one.

The Indigent Remains Program in King County started in 1993, when the state transferred responsibility for final disposition of unclaimed remains to counties. The Medical Examiner’s office took over the program, and Mount Olivet donated the land for the burials about 20 years ago.

The KCMEO conducts a search for family members and a determination is made whether the person has the personal money to help pay for the funeral, which takes about 21 days.

Records are kept for each individual remains so next-of-kin can retrieve it at a later point.

Names of the 302 people were buried.

Names of the 302 people were buried.

Mount Olivet Manager Jim Colt said years ago they had no place to keep folks’ remains. He said the ceremony is a way of respecting all people, and that whether you have money or not you should still receive a burial.

“They’re not just indigent, homeless, they’re unclaimed remains for whatever the reason,” he said.

Every year there’s more people in attendance, Colt said. There’s TV news crews at the event whereas in the beginning it wasn’t even announced.

Chaplain for Seattle Children’s Hospital Jeff Barker was one of the clergy representatives in attendance. It was tough to hear a few babies names, he said. He has spoken at the ceremony for several years.

“But it’s always tough no matter what age,” he said.

Chaplain for Seattle Children’s Hospital Jeff Barker.

Chaplain for Seattle Children’s Hospital Jeff Barker.

One unexpected tradition of this event is also the weather, it was rainy, sometimes even windy, at previous ceremonies. On Thursday, it was a quiet drizzle as folks stood and honored the 302 names.

Typically the ceremony is every two years. Colt said it feels like it’s been happening more frequently as more indigent individuals pass each year. Possibly due to there being a lot more people living in Seattle and King County.

Before the final playing of the bagpipes to conclude the service, Dick Foley and Terry Lauber, of The Brothers Four, performed “Wayfaring Stranger”:

“I am a poor wayfaring stranger,

While journeying thru this world of woe,

Yet, there’s no sickness, toil nor danger,

In that bright land to which I go.”

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Musician Dick Foley.

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Musician Dick Foley.

Foley said he’s been performing since 2003 and knew nurse Mary Larson, who commissioned the 2003 bench on the burial plot.

“It’s such a nice thing King County does, I’m so glad they do it,” Foley said.

More information is available at here.www.kingcounty.gov/examiner/indigent.

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Hundreds of people who passed away without family to bury them were remembered Wednesday, July 10, at the King County Medical Examiner’s Office Indigent Remains Ceremony at Mount Olivet Cemetery.

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Hundreds of people who passed away without family to bury them were remembered Wednesday, July 10, at the King County Medical Examiner’s Office Indigent Remains Ceremony at Mount Olivet Cemetery.

More in News

If passed, Senate Bill 6254 would limit the nicotine concentration of vape products, ban certain flavoring chemicals and require vape manufacturers, distributors and retailers to obtain licenses from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. File photo
Lawmakers propose sweeping regulations for vaping industry

Bill supporters cite concerns over health issues and teen use.

Photo by Haley Ausbun. A cloudy day at Renton Municipal Airport.
Seaplane pilots, businesses say no to FAA plans

Local businesses and pilots ask Renton to reconsider airport master plan

A proposal by Senate Democrats would require concealed pistol license applicants in Washington state to complete a safety course. File photo
Democrats seek firearm training requirement for concealed carriers

Republican senator calls proposal ‘unconstitutional.’

Snohomish County man is first U.S. case of new coronavirus

A man in his 30s was hospitalized in Everett after contracting the virus during a trip to China.

Photo courtesy of city of Renton. Council President Ruth Pérez speaks at Centro Rendu de San Vicente de Paul for the Reyes Magos event.
Census campaign joins Reyes Magos celebration

Members of Renton’s Hispanic community gathered Jan. 10 at Centro Rendu de… Continue reading

Alexander, who attended the event with his family that are currently housed at Mary’s Place, shows off his new shoes, compared to the pair he’s had the last two years. The shoes were just one of the resources his family accessed at the United Way Family Resource Exchange on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 20 at Lindbergh High School.
MLK’s humanity reflected in resource fair

United Way host Family Resource Exchange event

Photo courtesy of Carol Kaelson. Christel Tucker, a Renton resident and flight attendant, stands at the wheel at Wheel of Fortune. Her episode airs Monday, Jan. 20.
Rentonite spins the wheel of her dreams

Local finds herself winning thousands on Wheel of Fortune

Matt Marshall, leader of the Washington Three Percenters gun rights group, addresses a crowd rallying for Second Amendment rights Jan. 17 at the state Capitol in Olympia. Marshall condemned Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, which expelled Rep. Matt Shea from the Republican Caucus. Marshall announced his candidacy for the 2nd District seat held by House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox. Photo by Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
Gun rights advocates rally at Capitol

Criticism levied at Matt Shea investigation, Republican leadership.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (center) announced a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in a press conference Jan. 2. Debbie Warfield of Everett (left) lost her son to a heroin overdose in 2012. Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki (right) lost her son to an overdose of OxyContin in 2017. They are joined by Rep. Lauren Davis of Shoreline (second from right), founder of the Washington Recovery Alliance. (TVW screenshot)
AG Bob Ferguson talks lawsuits, gun control

Washington state Attorney General stopped by Sound Publishing’s Kirkland office.

Most Read