BALDWIN — Community members gathered on Thursday to pay their respect to 11 deceased residents whose ashes were never claimed. With prayer and song, their ashes were committed to the earth in an interment ceremony at Webber Township Cemetery and Pleasant Plains Township Cemetery.

For the past two years, funeral director Karl Walls, of Verdun Funeral Home, and his staff worked hard to identify the remains and follow up with any family members who could be found. Whether they were indigent or just didn’t have family in the area, the townships and funeral home combined their resources to make sure the deceased received a proper burial.

“We have been planning this interment for a couple years,” Walls said. “This is something we could and should do, to properly inter these ashes. My secretary followed up to see where the deceased individuals were from. Webber and Pleasant Plains townships donated plots for the burials and the sextons Bill Ghent and Greg Nicholes donated their time. I appreciate all of their support.”

Father Ron Schneider, of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Baldwin, conducted the interment ceremony. In Webber Township Cemetery, the following individuals were laid to rest: Barry Hawke, Michael Marsh, Michael Priest, William Priest and Robia Thompson.

“We gather here to remember these individuals,” Schneider said, naming the five deceased. “We name them so they are not unknown or forgotten ones. We celebrate their life. They were people who loved, laughed and cried. They were each loved by some people, maybe by many.

“We give them back to God who gave them as a gift to the world and lift them up in prayer and memory. We commit their remains to the ground.”

Schneider shared scripture from John 14 in which Jesus told the disciples there are many mansions in His father’s house.

Those present joined their voices as one in the Lord’s prayer followed by the song, “Amazing Grace.”

After the interment in Webber Township Cemetery, those gathered met across the road at Pleasant Plains Cemetery to inter Richard Harris, Margery Morgan, Davis Rice, Esther Sanchez and James Siebarth.

One set of ashes was unidentified and arrived at the funeral home in a wooden box about 15 years ago by a UPS shipment.

Words of prayer were followed by the hymn, “How Great Thou Art.”

“There will be a marker with their names so these individuals will not be forgotten,” said Webber Township Supervisor Ernie Wogatzke, who said he was touched by the ceremony.

More unclaimed ashes at the funeral home will be interred at a later date.