Indigent Defined

Indigent: adjective.  poor; needy | noun. a needy person

Working with Letitia (see this post) raised a multitude of questions for me. What happens to sick people who have no one and nothing, the “indigent?” Where do they go as they get sicker and can no longer care for themselves? What happens to them when they pass away? Who organizes their services? Are there services?

Letitia’s services were not held until nearly a month after her passing. My search for her obituary was in vain. There wasn’t one. I didn’t find out about the services until after they had already taken place. In the end, her estranged family did end up taking care of them but, what of those people who do not have family or anyone else for that matter?

In perusing the interwebs, searching for things to photograph in my area, I came across a service honoring those people I had been wondering about.

Indigent Cremains Burial Service

The Kitsap County Coroner’s Office recently held a public ceremony to honor 14 “indigent” members of our community. Some 70 members showed up to pay their respects to those who had passed, some still unknown. The ceremony comes by way of a generous donation of Sue Brown, a Bainbridge Island resident who had worked with a man who had developmental disabilities. Upon his passing, she went to claim his remains and did not feel right leaving the other unclaimed remains behind. She generously donated two plots in the Silverdale Pioneer Cemetery to the county to be used for laying the forgotten souls to rest.

In their statement, the Coroner’s Office says the reason for the ceremony, “Through no fault of their own these citizens left the world without family and funds for a final resting place. We at the Kitsap County Coroner’s Office feel very strongly that these individuals deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.”

And that, they were.

A man addresses a crowd at a funeral for indigent in a cemetery

Kitsap County Coroner Jeff Wallis addresses a crowd of some 70 community members in attendance at the burial services of 14 Kitsap County residents who died without family or funds for funeral services. He thanked the attendees saying, “I think this is a testament to how tight our community is. Thank you to everyone who has stepped up.”

Cremated remains of indigent on a table at a cemetery

Boxes of cremains of those who passed sit, prepared to be placed into their final resting place in Silverdale Pioneer Cemetery, July 13, 2019. Approximately 100 personnel hours went into attempts to identify and locate family and information for each individual.

A plaque a next to open graves of indigent people at a cemetery

A plaque placed near the donated plots thank and commemorate the individuals and businesses who have contributed to the services of “the forgotten souls.” July 13, 2019.


A man plays guitar as a woman places flowers in graves at a funeral service for indigent people

A community member places flowers in the graves of the 14 residents being laid to rest while local musician Kevin Saunders plays his guitar in their honor at the Indigent Cremains Burial Service in Silverdale Pioneer Cemetery on July 13, 2019.

a woman polaces flowers in the graves of the indigent people in a cemeterya woman polaces flowers in the graves of the indigent people in a cemetery

A chaplain addresses a crowd during a funeral service for indigetn people in a cemetery

Chaplain Don Melendez of Kitsap Fire and Rescue addresses the community members attending the services, July 13, 2019.

Men placing cremated remains of indigent people in graves in cemetery

Kitsap County Coroner Jeff Wallis and members of his staff lay the remains of 14 indigent community members to rest in a touching public ceremony, July 13, 2019.


A man plays the guitar at a funeral service for indigetn people in a cemetery

Kevin Saunders, a local musician, learned about the services a day earlier. Inspired by a film he had seen in which the protagonist honored the poor and needy in a similar way, he contacted Coroner Wallis and asked to play at the ceremony. Kevin relies on public transportation, which does not offer a route to Silverdale Cemetery so Wallis offered to give him a ride, another testament to the closeness of the community.


In Conclusion

In the touching service, Chaplain Don Melendez of Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue, touched on the importance of reaching out and lending a helping hand to these “indigent” individuals of our community. It is not enough to simply honor them after they pass. As he concluded the ceremony he said, “Let’s make that promise to one another; we will not be alone. This community is too great for anybody to be alone.”

Names of those honored in this ceremony:

  1. Sandra J. Post
  2. Yvonne Diane Feltzman
  3. Richard Dale Miller
  4. Remedios Reyes Byrne
  5. Herbert Jay Schorr
  6. James Lee Anderson
  7. Joyce A. Yale
  8. Reinee Louise Wohlers
  9. Margaret Mary Callahan
  10. Csaba A. Feher
  11. John P. Marion
  12. Robert N. Sage
  13. Welch
  14. Unknown