Edward K. Pearson died in Naples, Florida at the age of 80. His funeral in Sarasota, FL was packed, with some 4,000 people estimated to have come. According to CBS affiliate WTSP, the funeral notice let people know he didn’t have family and it went viral.
“He’s part of the veterans family. That’s why I’m here,” David Marsters told WTSP. He drove more than two hours from Lady Lake, Florida. “You never leave anybody behind.”
The obituary was posted to the Legacy Options funeral home website and it mentioned that all were invited to attend. After the obituary was shared on social media it went viral. Michael Hoyt, the Legacy Options director was shocked by the level of support. “It shows how awesome the power of social media can be used for an awesome force,” Hoyt told WTSP.
Hoyt made the 1 hour and 45-minute drive to attend the funeral. He was one of the hundreds who made the trek.
Military funerals are hosted at the Sarasota National Cemetary on a daily basis. Because of the notoriety of this funeral, they started preparing well in advance.
“It’s a phenomenal thing,” staff member Tina Beeler said. “I can’t say enough about these people who are going to show up tomorrow in busloads.”
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Ed Lyons III, the assistant director of the cemetery said, “He deserves this. He’s got his brothers and sisters who were in the military. He will be laid to rest with family.”
Pearsons served in the US Army starting in February 1962. Two years later on February 12, 1964, he was honorably discharged. The story was so widely known that even Gwen Graham, the Democratic candidate for Florida governor, mentioned it in a Tweet.
Mr. Edward K. Pearson served our country. He has no family to attend his funeral.
We can be his family.
You are invited to his funeral at the SARASOTA NATIONAL CEMETERY, 9810 State Road 72, this Tuesday, October 1 at 12:30 p.m.
Please go, if you can.https://t.co/QMnWC1P5ks
— Gwen Graham (@GwenGraham) September 29, 2019
“Mr. Edward K. Pearson served our country. He has no family to attend his funeral. We can be his family,” Graham tweeted. He also shared the time and location of the service.
WTSP and other local news outlets live-streamed the ceremony, allowing many more people to watch from home.
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