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Francis Mack Jr. of Washington, D.C., wanted proper burial for 101-year-old Jannie Summers

9:55 PM, May 23, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- The District has a program to help low income families with funeral costs. But it's not as simple as it sounds. You need to know details before you ever pick the funeral home and unfortunately, one family is finding that out the hard way.

Jannie Summers was at least 101 years old. Her family thinks she's older than that, born at a time when birth records weren't always kept properly for African Americans.

Francis Mack Jr. Says, "She was my icon. Heart and sole of our family. She was the strength, joy, she was everything."

And Mack only wants one thing for the woman who raised him: a proper burial for her.

"You live 100 plus years, most of your life in a city and when you look for assistance they can't help you because you pass in another city. That's crazy to me."

That was the first hurdle. Summers died at a nursing home in Maryland after breaking her hip in October. The family was denied any assistance because they were told she was no longer a D.C. Resident.

When they officially established residency, they faced another hurdle.

The funeral home they picked wasn't on the approved list.

Mack, "I didn't know there was a list when someone dies."

It's been two and a half weeks since her death. The family will get to say their final good byes to aunt Summers this Friday without the government's help.

Mack, "She didn't believe in life insurance. She paid everything in cash.  You pay your taxes, live your life in the city and you can't get nothing back. It hurts bad. It hurts bad."

Francis Mack gave up his entire 4 weeks of vacation to help pay for the 6500 dollar funeral cost. The church and funeral home helped too.

Because of this case and because, the Department of Human Services will
change the way they do things and will put a list of approved funeral homes on its website.

For requirements on Burial Assistance:,a,3,Q,609668,dhsNav,%7C30980%7C.asp

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