DICKSON, Tenn. (WKRN) – A funeral for an unclaimed war veteran will be held Monday.
Ronnie Lee Toler, 66, died on August 25. He has no family. He passed away at National Health Care (NHC), a rehab center in Dickson.
Now, two motorcycle groups and kind citizens are making sure he has a proper burial at a veterans cemetery.
It’s something that wouldn’t have happened had it not been for the Dickson Funeral Home and Cremation Center. NHC contacted the funeral home.
“They contacted us and told us that they had a person that they had no contacts for, no family, he doesn’t have any financial means at all,” Lois Sanders, the manager at the funeral home.
The funeral home attempted to find Toler’s family for several weeks and discovered he had estranged family members who either could not or would not have anything to do with the burial.
Sanders asked the funeral home owner, Chris Mayberry, to host the funeral and he agreed to cover the cost.
“Thanks to him and others like him we have the freedom that we have today and we are going to respect that and honor him every way that we can,” said Sanders.
“For us to be able to support our military with all that’s going on in the world today and to just offer this gesture of hope to others out there it’s our honor to do so,” said Mayberry.
“We were honored to be able to pay back a little of what he paid forward so many years ago,” he continued.
The visitation for Toler will be on Sunday, Sept. 20 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Dickson Funeral Home with a graveside service the next day at 9 a.m.
Mayberry said everyone will meet at the funeral home Monday morning at 8:15. It’s located at 209 East College Street in Dickson, TN.
About 50 motorcycles will escort Toler to the Middle Tennessee Veteran’s Cemetery where he will be buried with full military honors around 9 a.m. The procession will stretch about 25 miles along highway 70.
“When someone doesn’t have a family, you become their family and he lived here so we became his family,” said Emily Hunter. She is a nurse at NHC and has been caring for Toler for a couple of months.
“He was really sweet caring and very fun to be around,” said Hunter. “Everybody at NHC loved him.”
When asked about her reaction to the fact that Dickson Funeral Home is hosting a funeral for him she said, “I was blown away. It was very generous,” said Hunter. She said she plans to attend the funeral.
Sanders said many people have been reaching out wanting to help. Mayberry said he will still cover the full cost of Toler’s funeral. He said any donations will go to a veteran’s fund.