Last will and testaments, and final arrangement planning such as is
offered by Arizona Affordable Funeral Home and Crematory, can be a very difficult decision. Historically, they have also been used as expressions of undying love. Did you know that entertainer Jack Benny included arrangements for a single red rose to be sent to his wife every day after his Wills have also been used to express contempt, or as a reward for friendship and support. Legendary screen beauty Marilyn Monroe surprised her family by leaving everything to Lee Strasberg, her acting coach that had been supportive through many of the troubled actresses trials and tribulations.
Heinrich Heine, the German poet left all assets to his wife with one stipulation; she had to remarry to inherit the estate. This was not a romantic gesture. In the will he noted his reason for the odd paragraph; “Because, then there will be at least one man to regret my death.”
In Portugal the will is a rarity. Legally an estate simply is divided with immediate relatives, “obliged heirs.” At the age of 42, a decade before his death, Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara, a very wealthy man who had a 12-room apartment in Lisbon, numerous international bank accounts, cars, motorcycles, and cash, selected seventy names at random from the Lisbon phone book in front of witnesses at a registry office. Shortly after his death in 2007, the seventy unsuspecting people were surprised by notices from attorneys handling the estate.
Oil heiress Sandra West was quite passionate about her car, and not very impressed with family. When she died suddenly at the age of 37, hopeful heirs were stunned by one of her last requests; to be buried in a white silk nightgown in the front seat of her blue 1964 Ferrari 250GT “with the seat slanted comfortably.” She was not the only passionate owner of a vehicle that wanted to defy the idiom about not being able to take it with you when you go.
In Saluda, South Carolina, 90-year-old Lonnie Holloway was buried next to his wife in his prized 1973 Pontiac Catalina. The car was filled with many of his possessions. This included his gun collection as he was worried that somebody might use them to commit murder.
George Swanson had lived a successful and adventuresome life. A sergeant in the United States Army during WWII, he later became a leading beer distributor in Hempfield County, Pennsylvania. Long before his death at age 71 in 1994, Swanson had begun planning his funeral and final arrangements, first with the purchase of 12 plots at Brush Creek Cemetery. He was to be buried in the drivers seat of his 1984 Corvette. However, after his death the cemetery voiced concerns that other clients might be offended by the bizarre funeral. After weeks of legal negotiations the cemetery agreed but with stipulations; the burial must be private, and that the car be drained of fluids to protect the environment. According to the news stories Swanson’s widow, Caroline, transported her husband’s ashes to the cemetery in her 1993 Corvette. The urn was then placed on the driver’s seat of his 10-year-old car. Mourners also placed a quilt made by a group of women from Swanson’s church in that car, with a love note from his wife and an Engelbert Humperdinck tape in the cassette deck, with the song “Release Me” ready to play.
The last will and testament can be an expression of eternal love, or extreme eccentricity.
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America