Barbara Robinson heard the name on her television, but it didn’t make sense.
Her uncle Ollie Worley had been dead for 26 years. She had attended his funeral. Now, a TV newscast said his ashes had been left in a bag on the doorstep of a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Hurst.
“How many Ollie Worleys could there be?” Robinson wondered Wednesday from her home in Fort Worth.
A few hours later, a call from a nonprofit veterans group confirmed it: The ashes were indeed her uncle’s, and the VFW post was trying to track down family members.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
They wanted to honor Worley — a World War II veteran from Fort Worth who fought in Germany and France — with a service at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery in Dallas.
Interment had already been arranged for 1 p.m. Monday.
Robinson and Worley’s son in El Paso, Dennis Worley, who also found out about the ashes Wednesday night, were shocked by the kindness.
“I just can’t believe these people will go to all the lengths they go to for someone they don’t even know,” Robinson said.
But they were just as surprised to learn the ashes were even missing.
“As far as we knew, they were entombed someplace,” said Dennis Worley, who’s also a military veteran.
He was about to be deployed to Iraq after his father’s memorial service in 1990, so the ashes went home with his brother, Jay Worley, who died in 2005.
It’s possible, Dennis Worley said, that his brother gave the ashes to a close family friend.
At some point, Worley’s family believes, the ashes might have ended up in storage and were possibly left behind when the family friend died last year.
“We can only speculate,” Dennis Worley said, “but the possibility is that his family was going through things and took it upon themselves to give it to the VFW. We are very grateful for that.”
‘Please see that he gets a proper burial’
Whoever left the ashes at the Hurst VFW on Harmon Road knew the history behind them.
They were contained in a plastic bag inside a cardboard box. The box also held Ollie Worley’s dog tags, a card from a crematory in Lewisville and a handwritten note.
“This man was a WW 2 veteran that served honorably,” it said, “Please see that he gets a proper burial. Thank you! God Bless you!”
Rush Dewade, the post chaplain, set out to answer the note’s request.
He verified Worley’s service with the National Archives and coordinated with the cemetery in Dallas. Monday’s service should be brief, about 15 minutes, but Worley’s family will be there. It’s what Dewade wanted.
“I don't know why the remains showed up when they did,” he said, “but I have a feeling they were put there for this reason, to reunite them with his family and give the soldier a proper burial. That’s all I really know what to think about it.”