Unclaimed body to be buried; son says he was 'not a very nice man'

Son explains why family deserted man

jhewlett@herald-leader.comJuly 14, 2011 

Robert George, whose body has been in the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital morgue for more than three months, finally will be laid to rest, possibly on Thursday, in Burnside Cemetery in Pulaski County.

It's not likely that any of George's relatives, including his children — four sons and a daughter — will be there when his coffin is lowered into the ground, George's son, Robbie George of Texas, said Wednesday.

"He's done a lot of very bad things, and the family is not so forgiving," the son said.

Robert George, 72, of Burnside died March 27 at UK Hospital of complications from a cerebral vascular accident. Since then, his body has been stored in the morgue while UK officials tried to find someone to claim it.

Last week, Fayette Circuit Court Judge Thomas Clark ordered the Pulaski County coroner to take possession of George's body.

UK had gone to court asking that the Pulaski County or Fayette County coroner take the body and that the appropriate county bear the cost of burying George.

Clifton Iler, a lawyer for UK, told the judge that some family members contacted by UK were estranged from George, while others said they did not have the money to bury him.

George's wife, the attorney said, was under the care of a custodian and unable to provide a burial for her husband. Iler said that in other instances in which an indigent person from another county had died at UK Hospital, officials of the person's home county had accepted the remains.

Clark said it made sense for the county in which George resided to take possession of his remains.

Robbie George explained Wednesday why the family did not want his father's body.

"I figured that the family's side of the story needed to be heard," he said.

"This man here, he caused a lot of people a lot of grief."

Robert George had lived in Pulaski County since about 2003, he said. Robert George had been married six or seven times and was living in Pulaski County because that's where his current wife is from, he said.

From 1987 to 1992, Robert George served time at Westville Correctional Facility in Indiana on a charge of criminal deviant conduct, according to the Indiana Department of Corrections. He was paroled in March 1992 and released from parole a year later.

"He took a plea bargain so it wouldn't reflect his actual, true crime," Robbie George said. He said his father molested a mentally challenged girl who lived in the neighborhood.

"He only did one prison sentence out of many that he could have been charged for," the son said.

Robbie George recalled being removed from his father's home when he was 8.

Robbie George said he drove from Texas to UK Hospital after his father was admitted there March 24 and made the decision for his father to be removed from life support.

The son said UK Hospital personnel told him it had a program in place for dealing with indigent patients, and he didn't understand why the issue was taken to court.

UK spokesman Jay Blanton said Wednesday that UK does not have a program for handling such cases and is not authorized legally to bury or dispose of a body.

He said UK Hospital personnel contacted each family member for whom they were able to obtain contact information, and it was his understanding that each of those relatives declined to claim George's body for financial or other reasons.

"It is my understanding that we did not receive any requests for information about indigent burial," Blanton said.

He also said George's body could not be donated to UK's body bequeathal program. It had nothing to do with the timing of notification of George's next-of-kin; it was because the body did not meet all of the necessary criteria, he said.

His son had little sympathy.

"I hate to sound mean and crass ... but he created this life for himself," Robbie George said.

"It's an unfortunate set of circumstances. He was not a very nice man."

David Muse, the office manager of the Pulaski County coroner's office, said Robert George's body would be picked up at UK on Thursday.

"I got Burnside Cemetery yesterday to donate a grave," said Chris Lange, owner of Lange & New Bros. Funeral Home in Somerset, which is handling the burial.

"We do have the grave dug," he said. "I'm seeing what preacher I can get."

Lange said that George would be buried in a steel coffin and that the grave would have a steel liner.

He said he would be paid whatever amount out of county funds that the coroner approved for him. Lange said his cost of burying George will exceed $1,000.

"It's kind of amazing that no one would bury the gentleman," Lange said.

Reach Jennifer Hewlett at (859) 231-3308 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3308.

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