Bertram E. Williams – United States Navy

Post Office loses Burial Urn With Ashes

The United States Postal Service has lost the cremated remains of a man sent through the mail for burial at Arlington National Cemetery, postal officials say.

Bertram E. Williams, a retired naval. officer, died January 10, 2006, at St. Petersburg, Florida. Following the ‘terms of his will, Williams' family had His body cremated and asked'that the ashes be shipped to Arlington National Cemetery near
Washington for burial. Murray Watts, stepson of the dead man, said thecrematorium forwarded the asties in an urn placed in a mailing package.

Raymond J. Costanzo, Superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery, said yesterday that the box, about six-by- eight inches, was damaged when it arrived at the cemetery and the urn was not in it. “The family kept calling us and asking for the date of interment. We kept saying that we couldn't schedule it until we received the Costanzu said.

Costanzo said the cemetery frequently receives urns through the mail containing cremated remains. “In almost 30 years this is the first one ever lost.” he said.

Watts said. “We went to the post office and they started a search for it. We kept waiting and waiting but they never found it.”

St. Petersburg Postmaster Harry W. Scott said, “We spent many, many hours trying to locate it and made many telephone calls.” But to no avail.

Watts, a St. Petersburg real estate agent, said the family will receive for insurance on the parcel, which was neither registered nor certified. “This was an absolutely traumatic shock for my mother, who is 83. I don't think she will ever recover from said Watts.

Disclosure of the lost urn comes amid rising concern over damage to parcels sent through the mail. A Congressman who has studied the Postal Service's new billion-dollar system for handling parcels said yesterday that it constitutes “a management blunder of the first magnitude.”

Chairman Charles H. Wilson, D-California, of the House postal facilities subcommittee told postal officials that the system “will cost the American public millions of dollars while lowering the quality of mail service.”

Postal officials disagreed, saying the agency will solve its problem of parcel damage caused by the new sorting machines.

“The magnitude of the damage problem is not large percentage-wise, and certainly it is a temporary problem which can be corrected, but we recognize that the results to date arc unacceptable,” said Senior Assistant Postmaster General E.V. Dorsey.

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