Husband distraught after wife's ashes lost in the post days before funeral

Barbara Kirkendall’s memorial service had to go ahead without her remains

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The Independent US

A US Air Force veteran’s ashes have been lost in the post, leaving her husband of 61 years distraught.

Barbara Kirkendall’s funeral had to go ahead without her remains on Thursday, with the full military honours planned at the Dayton National Cemetery in Ohio postponed.

Her ashes were due to be sent to her husband, Norman, by Saturday but a six-day search by the United States Postal Service (USPS) failed to find them.

It is the only American courier service that accepts human remains and Steve Stivers, an Ohio Congressman, called the ashes’ disappearance “unacceptable”.

Mrs Kirkendall, 80, died earlier this month in Cleveland after a short illness believed to be an aggressive blood infection.

Her husband consented to an autopsy, the Cleveland Dispatch reported, and her cremated remains were sent back on Friday by express mail, but they never arrived.

“I was up at 5 o’clock in the morning, just waiting,” he told the paper. “I feel like I've lost her.”

The couple met at the Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi in 1953, where Mr Kirkendall taught his future wife Morse code, and went on to have five children together.

A spokesperson for the USPS said: “The Postal Service fully appreciates the importance and value of this package and is doing everything in its power to locate the cremated remains.

“We have been in contact with the family, offering our sincerest apologies, and will be keeping the family updated of any change in the situation.”