Community asked to attend funeral of 90-year-old veteran who has no relatives

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MAYFIELD VILLAGE, Ohio (WJW) — A Northeast Ohio community is banding together to provide a proper farewell to a U.S. Army veteran, John Krebel, who died at age 90 without any surviving relatives.

“I was with him when he died actually,” said Michelle Gorman, executive director of Governor’s Village, an assisted living facility in Mayfield Village.

Krebel spent his final days at the Governor’s Village, an assisted-living facility in Mayfield Village.  He arrived at the facility in July 2020, but in that short time, made quite an impression on the staff.

“He had a lot of struggles, a lot of hardship, but he still had a very pleasant attitude. He would joke around because he didn’t speak well often…when we did get things right and we did do things that he wanted to do, he would give us a couple of these (thumbs up) and a big smile,” she said.

John Krebel

“He made his own pre-arrangements back in 2017 (and he pre-arranged), he wanted to have a funeral mass and he was a proud veteran, United States Army,” said Ross DeJohn III, owner of DeJohn-Flynn-Mylott Funeral Home in Willoughby Hills. 

DeJohn handled services for both of Krebel’s sisters.  He says they were long-time residents of Euclid, none ever married or had children.  Krebel’s state-appointed guardian had no one to contact.

“The guardian simply stated ‘well, maybe we should just take him to the cemetery and just bury him (and he already had his grave, and I, you know, kinda looked at his pre-arrangement) and I said ‘this isn’t right,” said DeJohn III.

The funeral home called the pastor of St. John of the Cross Church in Euclid, where Krebel had been a member.

“I said ‘well, it might just be four of us in the church, our funeral home staff and him…and he says ‘we’ll give him the proper mass that he deserves,” said DeJohn.

Father John Betters says his pastoral associate became distraught when she learned that John Krebel didn’t have any family to say goodbye, so she emailed ten parishioners, asking would they attend a funeral mass for him.  They reached out on social media, and now it appears that John Krebel will not be going to his final resting place alone.

“I think it’s really neat to see that people care that much, and that they want to be a part of this and to honor this man’s life and honor his military service,” DeJohn said.

John Krebel’s funeral mass will be held at 10:00 a.m. Monday, May 3 at St. John of the Cross Catholic Church in Euclid.  He will be buried with full military honors.

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