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Stir over body of slugger subsides

This quiet Citrus County town was inundated a year ago with reporters and satellite trucks. Ted Williams' death brought national attention as his children engaged in an emotional battle over the baseball legend's remains.

The spotlight is gone now. Williams' body is still thought to be frozen in an Arizona cryonics facility. His children have grown quiet about their father's final wishes. And the museum bearing his name in Citrus Hills is still drawing fans.

"The man had a great life. He's gone. He was a hero. And people want to remember him that way. Those are the people I deal with," said the museum's executive director, Dave McCarthy, also a trustee of Ted Williams' estate and the former head of his security team.

One reason for the quiet may be a settlement between the children _ Bobby-Jo Williams Ferrell on one side, and John-Henry and Claudia Williams on the other _ their attorneys and an estate trustee, Al Cassidy.

According to members of Bobby-Jo's camp, the settlement prohibits Bobby-Jo, 54, from making further objections in the news media or courts about the disposition of her father's remains.

Bobby-Jo also would have no further interest in the estate, the value of which has not been made public. And she would call an end to her court fight, contingent on the signing of a settlement agreement and the distribution of their father's 1986 insurance trust now rather than waiting 10 years after the death.

The mind-set was, "Let's cut all ties," said John Heer, attorney for Bobby-Jo and her husband, Mark Ferrell.

Also under the settlement, Heer said, Williams' body, DNA or body fluids could not be tested, sold or distributed, one of Bobby-Jo's main concerns.

John-Henry and Claudia's former attorney, Bob Goldman, said he could not discuss details of the settlement, but said his clients would not have the right to sell DNA under the cryonics arrangements. "It simply is not possible," Goldman said.

Heer said the settlement took effect in December.

That also is when each child was granted about $211,000 from the trust.

By then, Bobby-Jo had decided she could not afford to keep up the fight in court.

After Williams died on July 5 at age 83, Bobby-Jo vowed to carry out her father's wishes as directed in his 1996 will: cremation, with the ashes sprinkled off the coast of Florida.

But John-Henry and Claudia, Williams' younger children from a different marriage, maintained their father later changed his mind.

They produced a handwritten note that they said had been signed by the three of them while Williams was in the hospital.

"JHW, Claudia, and Dad all agree to be put into Bio-Stasis after we die," the 2000 note read. "This is what we want, to be able to be together in the future, even if it is only a chance."

John-Henry, 34, and Claudia, 31, have said little publicly. Attempts to interview them were unsuccessful.

Trying again for a baseball career, John-Henry signed last month with the Selma Cloverleafs of the Southeastern League of Professional Baseball, according to news reports.

Claudia has continued to work with the Ted Williams museum as a member of its board and ran the Boston Marathon in April to honor her father and raise money for his favorite charity.

Bobby-Jo may be keeping quiet now, but her husband, Mark, is not.

"I will continue as long as I'm breathing to have his will enforced," he said.

Asked if he had any regrets about how things happened after his father-in-law's death, Mark Ferrell said: "Oh yeah, I have regrets that I wasn't a millionaire. Because if I had a lot of money, it wouldn't have ended the way it ended.

"Stay tuned for the next episode," he said.

On Valentine's Day, a Maryland man launched an online effort, www.saveted.net, to have Williams' remains released from the Alcor Life Extension Foundation.

"I was surprised and uneasy about what occurred to him. It didn't seem right," said Richard Jaffeson, also the founder of the National Women's Baseball Hall of Fame organization.

On his site, Jaffeson encourages people to contact Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard and urge his agency to investigate Alcor and enforce the state's consumer fraud laws.

So far, Jaffeson knows of about 40 who have e-mailed the attorney general and a half-dozen who have completed a complaint form.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general said she could not confirm or deny any investigation taking place.

"Time essentially is on our side," Jaffeson said. "He's not going anywhere until we get him out of there."

_ Suzannah Gonzales can be reached at (352) 860-7312 or sgonzalessptimes.com.

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