Because Of Act Of Kindness, Veteran Receives Funeral Services He Was Due

Thanks to Howie T. VanRensselaer, Cattaraugus County coroner and owner of the VanRensselaer and Son Funeral Home, Walter Luther Bunn received the funeral he deserved.

Bunn had resided at the Gowanda Rehab and Nursing Center for 11 years and passed away without any living relatives. Several funeral homes declined to take Bunn’s body because there isn’t much money to be made in indigent funerals, particularly for the work they can sometimes entail. VanRensselaer donated his services — and others involved in Bunn’s funeral did the same.

Not only did VanRensselaer handle Bunn’s funeral arrangements, his efforts led to a burial with full military honors at the Bath Veterans Cemetery and a service at the VanRensselaer and Sons Funeral Home in Randolph officiated by the Rev. Thomas Broad of Grace Episcopal Church, veterans honors by members of the Randolph American Legion Post and the Randolph VFW Post, and Randolph Central School band director Cory Derrenbacher concluded the service with the playing of Taps.

Thank you to all those who gave their time and efforts to make sure Walter Bunn received the funeral he deserved. Thanks most of all to Howie T. VanRensselaer, who could have easily refused to take Bunn’s case as some of his peers did. Not only did VanRensselaer take on Bunn’s case, he made sure people in our corner of the world will always remember the name Walter Luther Bunn, a man who served five years in Vietnam and received multiple commendations for bravery. VanRensselaer said he learned Bunn was a quiet person who kept to himself, but had an engaging smile and loved to buy Coca-Cola from the Gowanda Nursing Home vending machines.

“People really enjoyed the guy,” VanRensselaer said. “They said he never had a visitor in 11 years, not one.”

Let that sink in. Not one visitor in 11 years. It’s incredibly sad — and likely incredibly common.

Howie T. VanRensselaer did his part to make sure Walter Luther Bunn was remembered in death. Perhaps Bunn’s situation can prompt some type of program to help people in Bunn’s situation be remembered while they’re still here among us.


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