Almost 50 years after his funeral, Andrew Finlay Bain’s ashes were finally buried at the Oamaru Services Cemetery last week.
A small group of Mr Bain’s family gathered at the World War 2 veteran’s plot at the cemetery to bury the ashes.
Mr Bain, who went by his middle name, Finlay, died in 1970 aged 61, and his family had not realised his ashes had been left unclaimed at Whitestone Funerals until an advertisement was published in the Oamaru Mail in May. Mr Bain was one of 16 named in the Whitestone Funerals’ advertisement, asking for relatives of unclaimed ashes to come forward.
Whitestone Funerals funeral director Rose Gard said they heard from Mr Bain’s direct descendants and the interment was arranged for last week.
At the ceremony, Last Postwas played and the Anzac ode was read – in keeping with tradition for those who served in the army.
Mr Bain’s daughter-in-law Lesley Bain, who was at his funeral in Oamaru in 1970, remembered the body had to be taken to Timaru to be cremated following the service.
“I am not sure what happened. Maybe because he was cremated in Timaru, it got lost in transit,” Mrs Bain said.
“You go to a funeral but you don’t exactly ask [what happened to the ashes] at the time.”
Mr Bain’s son died young, so the connection was somewhat lost, and the surviving family assumed the matter had been taken care of by the funeral home.
Mr Bain’s grandson, also named Andrew Bain, never met his grandfather, but said it was fitting he had been laid to rest among fellow soldiers.
“I think it adds identity to a family.
“Now when Anzac Day comes around next year we will think of him – it carries the story on and creates a legacy.
“It is a really good thing, what happened.”
Of the 16 unclaimed ashes, all but four had been reunited with their families, or had alternative arrangements made for them.
Last month, a special service was held for the four unclaimed – Agnes Wilson Kelly (died 1999), Lydia Catherine Mitchel (2009), Terje Nielson (2013) and Colin Harry Rushby (2013). They were finally laid to rest in a communal plot at Whitestone Funerals’ Westview Memorial Garden.
“Some have to be picked up; a lady is coming from Australia in February, a lady is coming down from Taupo in October,” Ms Gard said.
“Overall it has been quite the journey – we are more than astounded at the reach and how far it has gone.
“We could not have asked for a better result.”
Ms Gard said there had been a lot of stories shared with people who had contacted the home over the past couple of months.