TAMPA — The unclaimed ashes of a bicyclist killed in a crash in November were finally claimed by a relative, who plans to inter them at an Illinois veterans cemetery.
Edward Allen Weber died Nov. 16 when a Jeep Cherokee rear-ended his bicycle on U.S. 41. The only identification found in his wallet was a Veterans Affairs Department medical card.
Weber's body was cremated Dec. 27 after the Florida Highway Patrol and Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office couldn't find relatives.
The ashes were destined to be scattered in the Gulf of Mexico until another veteran arranged to inter them at Florida National Cemetery near Bushnell.
But a cousin in Illinois recently stepped forward. The remains were shipped to her Friday.
Weber was one of 44 first cousins in a big family. The family had annual reunions since at least 1934. But members lost touch with Weber. Relatives say he must have wanted it that way.
"I know of no history other than he is family and a veteran of the Marines," Mary Franklin Krumwiede of St. Anne, Ill., wrote in an e-mail. "It seems everyone should be given a Christian burial."
Krumwiede said she plans to inter his ashes at Abraham National Cemetery.
The news of Weber's death reached the family by a circuitous route.
Loretta Krumwiede Barlow said she heard about Weber's death from a long string of e-mails. Barlow said she and Weber lived a few miles from each other as teenagers in Illinois. His father, Lloyd, died young. His mother, Rose, died in 2004. He was an only child. He married twice and had three children.
Sharon Lawson, 57, married Weber in Piper City, Ill., when she was 17 and he was 23. A daughter, Shaton Appleby, was born soon afterward.
Lawson said Weber was good to her when she was pregnant, but he was an alcoholic and was violent with her. They soon divorced. Lawson was close to Weber's mother despite his rough relationship with her.
"Rose did love her son. She was a hardworking woman," Lawson said. "Always tried to do her best."
Lawson said authorities told her daughter on Friday what happened to her father. Weber had sent Appleby a few postcards from Florida, but she hadn't seen him since she was 8. Now, Appleby is 39 and has two teenage sons, Christopher and Philip.
"I feel bad for him," Lawson said of Weber. "I mean, he could've had a good life if he had wanted it."
Ileana Morales can be reached at (813) 226-3386 or email@example.com.