Family claims ashes left at Silver Spring church

The pastor of a Rockville church was holding onto ashes, hoping to find the man's family. It didn't take long.

SILVER SPRING, MD (WUSA9) - The pastor of a Silver Spring church said someone dropped off a man's ashes on his door step. He reached out to WUSA9 to help find a family member of the man to give him the proper final resting place. Less than a day after our story aired, the mystery is somewhat solved.

Angela Nerem said she woke up to a Facebook message Wednesday morning from a stranger.

"She said, 'This is gonna seem weird,'" Angela remembered.

She was right. The person, who didn't know Angela, saw WUSA9's story about Donald Willard's ashes being left at a church. She connected the dots and found Angela online.

"I was like, that's my uncle! This is just so strange," said Angela. "My uncle was a pretty special guy."

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Donald was a Vietnam veteran, a steam fitter and a Maryland native.

"I called him Uncle Don, Donald or Donnie if we wanted to be funny," Angela recalled.

Donald lived with his brother, Raymond, who was Angela's father, in their Rockville home. In December 2009, her father passed away. Then, 6 months later in July 2010, so did Donald.

"It was very hard," said Angela.

She paid for her uncle's cremation, and another family member took the remains. But that's where the confusion sets in: How Donald ended up at the Viers Mill Baptist Church is still a mystery. What Angela does know, is that she's thankful it was Pastor Wilson who found him.

"At least he will have a place with family that knew him and cared about him," Angela said.

Angela called Pastor Wilson, and she plans to meet up with him soon to get the remains.

"I don't know anything about the man, but he was a human being. He deserved to be put to rest with dignity and respect and honor," said Pastor Wilson.

The church will not be Donald's final resting place, but it was the perfect stop along the way: Through the hands of Pastor Wilson, who made it his mission to do the right thing.

"He was a human being and he had purpose in life, he had purpose to his family," Angela said.

Once Angela picks up Donald's remains, she's going to keep them on her mantle right next to the urn containing her dad's ashes. Angela also says she's extremely grateful to the woman who messaged her on Facebook and helped connect the dots. 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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