“Tending to the Forgotten, the Forsaken and the Flat-Broke”

Who takes care of those who are unwanted after they die? Often, it is a funeral director. Following the 15 April 3013 Boston Marathon bombing in Massachusetts that killed three people and injured over 200 people and following the death of Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, funeral home director Peter Stefan, age 76, who works in Worcester, Massachusetts, took and cared for Tamerlan’s corpse. As of 6 May 2013, Mr. Stefan was unable to get permission to bury Tamerlan’s body in any nearby cemetery. Tamerlan is a Muslim, and his religion forbids cremation. Mr. Stefan said, “I understand everybody’s feelings, but at some point we have to set feelings aside and say, ‘We have to do something.’” For many years, Mr. Stefan has been, in the words of reporter Tracy Connor, “tending to the forgotten, the forsaken and the flat-broke.” Josh Slocum, executive director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, said, “He’s bent over backwards to serve the least in the community for decades.” Lisa Carlson of the Funeral Ethics Organization said, “He’s probably one of the few people with the guts to do the right thing.” Mr. Stefan said, “In this country, we bury people. We don’t leave them hanging around.” Mr. Slocum wrote about Mr. Stefan in an email, “He was the only one who would bury gay men dead of AIDS back in the ’80s. He did funerals for slain prostitutes that everyone else treated like some sort of subhuman trash.” Mr. Slocum added that Mr. Stefan is “a good man of rare character.” In 2004, Mr. Stefan organized a memorial for three prostitutes who had been killed by a suspected serial killer. Mr. Stefan did this because no one seemed to care about the lives or the deaths of the three prostitutes. In addition, he started a fund for the victims’ children. In a 2002 profile in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, Mr. Stefan said, “God must have loved the poor, ’cause he made so many of them. That’s one of my favorite sayings. Nobody seems to give a crap. That’s why I’m involved, to take care of poor people.”

For Further Information: Tracy Connor, “Funeral director in Boston bombing case used to serving the unwanted.” NBC News. 6 May 2013


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