The coroner’s office and county officials held a ceremony Monday to bury the remains of 79 indigent and unclaimed persons — the first-ever such burial to be held in Lake County.
The ecumenical nondenominational burial ceremony was held at Ascension Cemetery in Libertyville.
The ceremony began at 1 p.m. Monday following a procession to the cemetery.
The procession started at the coroner’s office in Waukegan and proceeded down Route 120 to the cemetery.
Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek said the remains of 79 indigent or unclaimed people, who had previously been cremated, were interred in the cemetery.
Most of the descendants died from 2016 and onward. Some died prior to 2016, including one person whose cremains were found during a house sale and turned over to the coroner’s office.
Lake County Chief Deputy Coroner Steve Newton said the indigent and unclaimed persons buried were all previously identified and either had no family or the family signed away rights to disposition.
Funeral directors from throughout the county transported the remains from the coroner’s office to the cemetery.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office provided an escort during the procession.
The coroner’s office organized the event in conjunction with the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
The ceremony lasted just under an hour and was attended by numerous local officials.
Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart, Lake County Board Member Diane Hewitt, Lake County Administrator Gary Gibson and Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office Indigent and Family Services Manager Rebeca Perrone were among those in attendance.
Banek said during the ceremony that she had contemplated how to memorialize the 79 souls during their initial planning for the service.
She said she asked herself “Who were these people?” and “What were their stories?”
“I would like to assure you that despite not knowing the details of their lives lived, I am certain that they were far from unremarkable,” Banek said.
The coroner said that taking a moment to memorialize the 79 decedents is important because “we believe that taking care of people is more important than the sum of knowing the details.”
“At the coroner’s office, one of our charges is to be the final caretaker for indigent decedents, and I am humbled that we can provide them a final resting place,” Banek said.
The funeral service was officiated by Rev. Larry Sullivan.
The coroner’s office said they expect to host indigent burials every year or every other year moving forward.