Community support needed for memorial in honour of Eric Lee

Former mayoral candidate and Kingston’s ‘Elevator Guy,’ Eric Lee, in July of 2018. Photo by Cris Vilela.

They say it takes a village to raise a child… Sometimes, it takes that same village to ensure those within it are treated with dignity and respect after death.

Many in Kingston were shocked to hear of the passing of Eric Lee in early March of this year. Even more were shocked to hear his body remained unclaimed as Kingston Police and the Regional Coroner’s Office searched for Lee’s next of kin, or an appropriate claimant to take care of Lee’s end-of-life services.

Since Kingstonist ran the article asking for next of kin or possible claimants to come forward on Wednesday, Mar. 27, 2019, a number of members of the public have stepped up, according to Det. Sgt. Jay Finn of Kingston Police.

Funeral Director Rick Lawrence of Tompkins Funeral Home in Gananoque contacted Finn after reading the article. Lawrence is a long-serving funeral director and has been with Tompkins since 1989. Working for the independent, family-owned funeral home, Lawrence said he couldn’t stand by knowing Lee’s body was going unclaimed.

“Since coming to this area, I’ve never heard of a body going unclaimed. It happened when I was in Toronto, but not here…” Lawrence said with a pause.

“And luckily I have great bosses who are allowing me the space to work on this on top of my regular work.”

Lawrence explained step by step what needs to happen in order for Lee to be properly cared for and his end-of-life services attended to. He, along with one of Lee’s former neighbours, are currently making arrangements for Lee to be cremated. Lawrence will oversee the logistic aspects of the process, but there are financial realities to address as well. To obtain a nice urn, secure a resting place, and hopefully hold a public memorial service, it’s going to cost money.

With that in mind, and knowing just how wonderfully this city comes together in times of need, Kingstonist has opened a GoFundMe account to raise funds to cover the costs of an urn, interment, and a memorial service in Lee’s honour.

While final details are being worked out, the fundraising goal has been set at $7,000, and any funds raised which are not used will go directly to Kingston’s Partners in Mission Food Bank. The GoFundMe page will be updated to be transparent, and details of the public service will be posted there as well.

If you haven’t yet, please read Lee’s obituary, outlining an incredible story of just how easily the world can get ahead of you when you take on the role of primary caregiver for an ailing parent. Lee ensured his father was taken care of up to and including his death. Let’s try to do the same for him.

To read more or contribute to Lee’s funeral and memorial costs, please visit www.gofundme.com/a-proper-send-off-for-eric-lee.

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