This story goes from tragic to uplifting. And it shows that many people really do respect those who served for their country.
Stanley Clyde Stoltz led an amazing life. He was born in May 1945, in the last days of World War Two.
A lifelong Midwesterner, Stoltz’s birthplace was Emmetsburg, Iowa, and he grew up in the nearby town of Curlew.
When the Vietnam war broke out, Stoltz received the draft.
He bravely defended his country and saw things that many Americans only hear about.
After he returned from overseas, his life became much quieter. He moved to Bennington, Nebraska, where he worked and eventually retired.
Sadly, on the 18th of November, Stanley Stoltz died at the age of 73.
At the time of his death, no one in his home city knew of any relatives or even friends. Like so many people, he had become isolated in his old age.
Faced with the prospect of practically no one attending Stoltz’s funeral, Good Shepherd Funeral & Cremation services issued an obituary in the local newspaper.
The obituary stated that Stoltz was a war veteran and had no known family.
The cemetery was expecting a low turnout for the funeral. But then something amazing happened.
Thanks to social media, this sad obituary received more and more attention. It was shared online thousands upon thousands of times. Any many people, from nearby and far away, decided to pay Stoltz one final honor.
On the morning of the funeral, the managers of the cemetery must have had a huge surprise. Instead of the practically unattended funeral they were expecting, hundreds and hundreds of people were walking through the gates.
And they kept on arriving.
In fact, the traffic was jammed up on the local interstate. But this didn’t put anyone off attending, however.
The start of the funeral service even had to be delayed, as so many people kept showing up.
No one is sure just how many people came to Stoltz’s funeral, but current estimates place the figure at around 1,500.
Young and old, the crowd paid their final respects to someone who deserved so much more recognition in life.
Many of those who attended were veterans themselves. One such attendee, Dick Harrington, said, “No vet deserves to die alone. Thank God. We looked around and said, ‘Here’s his family.’ It’s true. Veterans. We’re all family. That’s just the way we roll.”
And none were more amazed by the huge attendance than the last people who knew Stoltz.
Amy Douglas and Taylor Jackson were the departed veteran’s caregivers for the last years of his life. Before news of Stoltz’s funeral went viral, they were possibly the only two people determined to attend.
“He would definitely be touched.” Douglas said.
“I think anybody would be honored.” Jackson added.
Eventually, the funeral proceeded. The event was a solemn but powerful moment for all in attendance. At its conclusion, fellow veteran Dick Harrington received Stoltz’s casket flag, taking the place usually reserved for family members.
Thanks to the social media sharing of the obituary and funeral, Good Shepherd Funeral & Cremation Services was eventually connected to Stanley Stoltz’s surviving family members.
We now know that he is survived by a sister, two brothers and 13 nieces and nephews. They now know of Stoltz’s passing.
And people are still paying their respects to Stoltz even after his funeral. The online tribute wall of Stanley Shultz’s entry on Good Shepherd Funeral & Cremation Services has been inundated. People are saying things like:
“Stanley: May you rest in peace-the battle is finally over, from one vet to another! Enjoy your eternal stay in heaven. From SBH.”
“Thank you for your service to our country. I am proud of everyone who acknowledged your service.”
“Rest easy buddy. Will always cherish those crazy car rides (some ditches too.) Susie and I were so sad and melancholy to hear of your passing. God speed.”
It’s just a shame that Stoltz wasn’t able to see this outpouring of respect himself.
Thank you, Stanley Stoltz, and may you never be forgotten. Watch the touching story below.
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Source: 6 WOWT News