No funeral services for Williams
Son, estranged daughter at odds over plans for bodyPosted: Saturday July 06, 2002 3:31 PM
Updated: Sunday July 07, 2002 2:48 AM
CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. (AP) -- No funeral services are planned for Ted Williams, his attorney said Saturday, as a dispute arose over the plans for the remains of the baseball great.
Williams died Friday in a hospital near his home in west-central Florida. He was 83.
"Ted Williams was a private person in life, and in death he wished to remain private," Eric Abel, Williams' attorney, said in a statement. "He did not wish to have any funeral or funeral services."
Boston Red Sox officials said Saturday they have tentatively scheduled a memorial celebration on July 22 at Fenway Park, Williams' home field for 19 seasons.
On Saturday, Williams' estranged daughter accused her half brother, John Henry Williams, of planning to cryogenically freeze their father's body and preserve his DNA, perhaps to sell in the future.
Later Saturday, Barbara Joyce Williams Ferrell told The Associated Press that she was told by a "very important person" at Hooper's Funeral Home in Inverness on Saturday that her father's body had been moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., the day before. She would not identify the person.
"My father's body was put on a plane yesterday with people from Alcor," Ferrell said, referring to Alcor Life Extension Foundation, a provider of cryonics services.
"My father's body was picked up yesterday, transported to Ocala and he was accompanied by a Mr. David Hayes of Alcor to Scottsdale. All I know is that," Ferrell said. "I'm imagining they were trying to keep it quiet," she said.
"I will rescue my father's body. Me and my attorney are working on that," she said.
John Henry Williams did not return a call Saturday seeking comment on Ferrell's statements.
Dwight Hooper, vice president of the funeral home, said Saturday he could not comment on whether the body was still at the funeral home or somewhere else because Williams' family has requested privacy on the matter.
"I'm physically able to comment, but I'm not going to," Hooper said. "I'm not at liberty to comment. I'm not going to get in the middle of the family."
A spokeswoman for Alcor said the company would not comment.
"I have not spoken to any member of that family," Karla Steen, Alcor's marketing director, said Saturday. She said it was possible the Williams' DNA transaction could have been handled by the center, but she had heard nothing about it. And "even if someone (at Alcor) had spoken to a family member on the subject, we have a policy to never discuss anything about our patients or their family members. Period."
Ferrell told The Boston Globe that a restraining order was to be filed Monday.
Al Cassidy, executor of Williams' estate, told the newspaper he would meet with the family's lawyers Monday to start the process of handling the estate. He declined to say how large the estate was or how it would be divided.
"We're all sitting here together, we're all grieving, and we don't want to attack (Ferrell)," said Cassidy, a longtime friend of the family. "But Ted had private wishes, and he would not like to see it happening like this."
Ferrell, in a story first reported by the Globe and the Boston Herald, said her brother first brought up cryogenics after Williams' open-heart surgery in 2001.
"He said the way they're going with medical science and DNA, we could freeze dad's body, or we can freeze his head," Ferrell said. "He said, we could sell the DNA.
"I told him (Dad's) against cryogenics. It is very immoral. I said I was against it and I would stand against it."
Abel refused to confirm or deny any talk of cryogenics. He called the idea of selling DNA or cloning an "absurd proposition."
"The Williams family members are in a period of great grieving," Abel said. "It is unfortunate that Barbara Joyce Ferrell has taken this moment to grab headlines."
Abel asked, at the request of the Williams' family, that instead of flowers, donations be made to The Jimmy Fund, a Boston-based charity, or the Ted Williams Museum in Hernando.