A donation for future generations

June 21, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

For the love of those who unselfishly gave their bodies for medical science, nearly 40 people gathered at Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville yesterday.

"Donating their bodies is a legacy that is important to the health of generations to come," said Ronald S. Wade, director of the State Anatomy Board, at the 1994 Anatomical Donor Appreciation Day. "The important thing that I leave behind is hope for the next generation."

For about 20 years, the state has sponsored this annual memorial service for those people whose bodies were used for research or medical and dental instruction in Maryland schools, said Gerry Palmer, Mr. Wade's administrative assistant.

The service in honor of voluntary donors and those whose bodies were unclaimed is coordinated by the State Anatomy Board and the Office of Volunteer Services at Springfield Hospital Center.

During the past year, more than 400 people were buried at the collective grave marked by a single stone to honor "those who gave unselfishly of themselves to advance medical education and research."

"These good people have made it possible to learn and to teach others about things that will serve all of us in Maryland and the world," said Marshall L. Rennels, chairman of the State Anatomy Board.

As strains of "How Great Thou Art" floated across the tree-shaded memorial, visitors dabbed their eyes in memory of friends or relatives interred at the site.

"My father would have been very happy with this," said Sherry Locklear of Highlandtown, whose father died of bladder cancer in February.

Ms. Locklear and her sister-in-law, Sandra Williamson, said Ms. Locklear's father decided to donate his body in 1977 in hopes of helping others.

"He didn't want us to cry over him," said Ms. Locklear, who cared for her father for about six months before he died.

Her mother, Vivian Williamson, had cared for him for two years of his illness and her sister-in-law for 15 years, Ms. Locklear said.

"He said his body didn't do him much good, maybe it would do something good for someone else," Sandra Williamson said with a brief laugh.

"There will be someone here every year to remember him," she said.

For Violet J. Walston of Baltimore, fulfilling the wish of her husband of 40 years to donate his body when he died in 1989 relieved her of the burden of planning a funeral.

Ms. Walston is one of several people who also attended last year's ceremony. Her brother-in-law, who died in 1990, is also buried at the site, she said.

"Both of us filed the [donation] papers in 1987," Ms. Walston said. "We had no children to help plan [a funeral], so this helped me get over it a little easier."

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