Friday, December 15, 2017
News Roundup

Tampa Bay woodworkers come together give veterans proper burials

Tom Jones was disturbed.

As he sat in his Land O'Lakes home this spring, he listened to reports of a Florida veteran who was buried in a shallow grave inside a cardboard box.

"It felt so disgraceful," said Jones, a 64-year-old Army veteran.

He took it upon himself to ensure that no veteran would ever again be buried in such a manner.

The amateur woodworker started crafting wooden urns.

The first two were simple, but well-made. He took them to his Tampa woodcrafting club, of which he is vice president, and to a club in St. Petersburg to enlist support.

Club members loved the idea.

Club members have now made 17 boxes. Jones hopes it is just the beginning.

"It's our hope that we'll get woodworking clubs around the country to do this," he said.

• • •

Maintenance workers discovered Lawrence Davis Jr.'s remains earlier this year after readjusting a headstone at the Florida National Cemetery near Bushnell.

News spread across the state and country, sparking outrage, the latest in a string of improper veteran burials.

Davis, a World War II veteran from Avon Park, was 83 when he was reported missing in August 2002. Two years later, his skull was found near a lake. More of his bones soon turned up in the area.

The remains were taken to the medical examiner's office. From there, he was taken to the cemetery in a cardboard box — the same box he was buried in.

In July, Davis was given a proper burial and military ceremony.

• • •

It takes Jones a day to make two urns.

He does it with care.

He cuts the sides of the boxes with a router, creating four interlocking pieces that fit snuggly together like a zipper. The top glues on. The remains are put in the box through the bottom, which is then screwed tight. He spray lacquers the whole box.

Jim Orndoff, Jones' brother-in-law who helped him develop the idea, said it's a valuable project.

As a family counselor for Veterans Funeral Care in Clearwater, he hears of numerous veterans who are cremated and can't pay for proper burials.

He estimates he deals with three or four cases every month in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

"There's so many homeless vets out there," he said. "It can happen."

Kurt Rotar, the cemetery director at the Florida National Cemetery, agreed on the project's importance.

"I'm sure there's going to be families that are appreciative of that," he said.

There would be no legal problems burying the urns, Rotar said. There are no current limitations or policies on what can and cannot be buried.

"We will inter whatever the family brings to us," he said. "That's our policy."

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who attended Davis' July burial, said it's important every veteran gets a proper burial.

"I'm grateful for the hard work of others to ensure those who served our nation are treated with the utmost respect," said Nelson.

• • •

The urns come in all different sizes.

They're made with all different types of wood — whatever is donated or on hand — and each woodworker can use whatever technique he wants.

"Whatever way you're comfortable with making a box, just do it," Jones said. "The important part is that we have some nice, decent boxes for these guys."

Some have decorative routing to give it more character. Eventually, they might add medallions for each branch of service.

But for now, they'll have the same words stamped into the bottom in black ink:

"A Place To Rest Honoring Our American Hero Veteran."

Danny Valentine can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432.

   
Comments
Lightning routs Coyotes for sixth straight win

Lightning routs Coyotes for sixth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. — As much as the Lightning has been rolling, it remembered how it lost twice last season to the Coyotes.That included blowing a one-goal third-period lead at home down the stretch, with Tampa Bay missing the playoffs by a point."You l...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Stephan Jiggetts’ 20 points lead USF basketball over Bethune-Cookman

Stephan Jiggetts’ 20 points lead USF basketball over Bethune-Cookman

TAMPA — USF used a 21-3 run midway through the second half en route to an 83-63 win over Bethune-Cookman on Thursday night before an announced 2,091 at the Sun Dome.The victory halted a four-game losing streak for the Bulls (5-6), who scored the last...
Updated: 4 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Dec. 14

Thursday’s scoreboardGirls soccerLargo 4, Boca Ciega 1
Updated: 4 hours ago
House Speaker Paul Ryan says he’s not leaving Congress soon

House Speaker Paul Ryan says he’s not leaving Congress soon

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday he’s not leaving Congress anytime soon, trying to squelch rumors that he will walk away in triumph after the Republicans’ treasured tax bill is approved. Politico and the Huffington Post published re...
Updated: 5 hours ago
No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Here’s the one thing we definitely know:Rays officials headed home from the winter meetings and back across I-4 Thursday without making deals to trade any of their bigger-name, higher-paid players. Not closer Alex Colome, not third...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Tampa police seek ‘person of interest’ in Dec. 3 homicide

Tampa police seek ‘person of interest’ in Dec. 3 homicide

TAMPA — Police are seeking a "person of interest" who they believe has information about a Dec. 3 drive-by shooting that killed a 22-year-old man.Police are searching for Anan Motilal, 25. He stands about 5-foot-10 and weighs 180 pounds. He may have ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, please go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Thurs., Dec. 14, midday:97 796 8399e_SRit63724Thurs., Dec. 14, evening:37 731 1382e_SRit63276LottoWed., ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Pence to delay Mideast trip as tax deal nears vote

Pence to delay Mideast trip as tax deal nears vote

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence is delaying his weekend departure for the Middle East as Congress nears completion of a tax overhaul, his office announced Thursday. White House officials said Pence now plans to leave for Egypt on Tuesday so he...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Pinellas Park officer stuns middle school student with Taser

PINELLAS PARK — A school resource officer stunned a middle school student with a Taser while trying to break up a fight between her and another female student on Thursday, police said.Neither the Pinellas Park officer nor the students involved in the...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Senator: Comey’s remarks on Clinton probe heavily edited

Senator: Comey’s remarks on Clinton probe heavily edited

WASHINGTON — A draft statement former FBI director James Comey prepared in anticipation of concluding the Hillary Clinton email case without criminal charges was heavily edited to change the "tone and substance" of the remarks, a Republican senator s...
Updated: 6 hours ago