Public burial honors those in Richland Co. unable to have traditional funeral

Updated: Apr. 18, 2021 at 5:06 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - On Sunday, 23 members of the Richland County community were laid to rest in a public burial and memorial service.

The ceremony was for those who were unclaimed, had no living family members, or simply were unable to be buried by traditional means.

The service was held at the Richland County Cemetery on Old Clemson in Columbia. Friends, family and members of the public were welcome to attend with COVID-19 safety measures in place.

Conelia Judy was there to say her final goodbye to her best friend, Toni Burton, who died earlier this year at the age of 38 after suffering from respiratory issues unrelated to coronavirus.

Judy says it was unexpected, which made it difficult to arrange a funeral.

“It was really sudden. So, it was kind of like our last option,” Judy said. “It’s very important because now I can come here every year and celebrate her birthday, bring her flowers, come and take my kids and do picnics and just keep the memory alive.”

The ceremony was organized by the Richland County Coroner’s office. In a statement, Coroner Naida Rutherford said, “Even in death, we want to show that their lives mattered.”

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