LifeSpan pays tribute to Guardianship program wards

Story and photos by Richard O Jones

John Carr was a quiet man, who lived a quiet life. He worked as a dishwasher at Hyde’s Restaurant in Hamilton, and in his spare time liked to watch westerns in his room at Tri-County Extended Care.

Lisa Frye
Lisa Frye

“He was very soft-spoken,” said Lisa Frye, director of LifeSpan’s Guardianship Program, at a funeral service for John Carr, held September 17 at Hamilton’s Greenwood Cemetery.

John Carr had been a ward of the Guardianship Program since 2007. When his LifeSpan staff and volunteer Guardians would come to visit him, he always asked for a Pepsi, Frye said, and because he didn’t like the food at the nursing home, he would relish a double cheeseburger and fries from McDonalds.

When John Carr, born June 3, 1943, passed on February 19, 2014, he had no family to take care of his remains, no family plot to be buried in. Thanks to a unique partnership between Greenwood Cemetery and LifeSpan, John Carr did have a place for his remains among the family of LifeSpan clients.

“Many times when our wards or clients pass, they don’t have family, so they don’t have anyone to take care of them after they pass and that becomes an issue,” said Bill Staler, Chief Executive Officer of LifeSpan.  “So we’re fortunate that we have a partnership with Greenwood Cemetery who’ve been very generous in donating the land to put those folks to rest who have no other options.”

The Butler County Probate Court is responsible for appointing guardians for elderly, mentally ill and developmentally disabled people who have no family member able or willing to look out for them. LifeSpan staff and volunteer guardians make decisions for these clients relating to health care, living arrangements, or safety issues.

Judge Randy Rogers leads a reading of the 23rd Psalm.

Probate Court Judge Randy Rogers spoke at the ceremony, calling the Guardianship Program “one of the most important things that I am involved in,” which he has since its inception in 1996, before leading a call-and-response recitation of Psalm 23.

“A lot of lives have been touched,” he said. “In a way, my role as probate judge is to be a shepherd to this program, so there is nothing I would rather do today than to read about my favorite shepherd.”

The Rev. Mark Finfrock

Mark Finfrock, pastor of the First United Methodist Church, read several passages from the Holy Bible, including the famous passage from Corinthians 1, “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.” O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’”

LifeSpan memorial marker
LifeSpan memorial marker

The partnership with Greenwood Cemetery began in 2012, when three former LifeSpan wards who were laid to rest was held at Greenwood Cemetery on December 4: Robert Singer, Frank Evans and Lois Overbey.

The ashes of John Carr have been interred near a stone memorial, which will be engraved with the name and years of birth and death for 25 other individuals in the Guardianship Program who have passed away since the initial ceremony in 2012.

For more information about the Guardianship program, call 513-868-3210.


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