Sunday, April 10, 2016

A WWII vet’s body lay unclaimed at the morgue.

Then neighbors did something beautiful.


Nick Adams (left) and and Bill Sheppard (center) attend the memorial service they arranged for their neighbor, World War II veteran Andrew Moore, 89, at Arlington National Cemetery.

Andrew Moore lived alone and died alone. He was raised in an orphanage, never married and outlived his friends. For his last 40 years, the World War II veteran slept on a couch in a rent-­controlled efficiency apartment in the nation’s capital.

The 89-year-old pensioner died in December with no will, no instructions and no next of kin. He lay in a cold room at the D.C. medical examiner’s office, where the unclaimed dead are usually destined for a nameless pauper’s grave.

Instead, on Friday, Moore was given a hero’s sendoff at Arlington National Cemetery. A uniformed honor guard escorted Moore’s flag-covered remains. In place of a silent goodbye, a bugler played taps and three volleys of rifle fire marked his passing.

How was a lonely man diverted from the oblivion of a potter’s field for the glory of his country’s most hallowed resting place? It was the work of a family Moore may not have known he had: the residents of State House, a post-WWII apartment building at the edge of Washington’s Embassy Row.

His neighbors in that vertical village didn’t know much about the affable old-timer who smoked on the front steps. But they knew this: He deserved a dignified goodbye.




World War II veteran Andrew Moore, 89, died in Washington in December. His neighbors in his apartment building arranged for a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. (Family Photo)
‘Impossible not to like him’

Most residents of the eight-story, 308-unit State House probably never heard Andy Moore’s name. He was just one of the building’s fixtures, the friendly Redskins fanatic — always wearing the burgundy-and-gold cap — in Apartment 307. He would bring the staff members Hershey’s Kisses from his outings to CVS or cookies from the McDonald’s on 17th Street in Northwest Washington, where he would play pickup chess.

“I offered to replace his AC unit once, and he said not to bother,” said building engineer Damian Greenleaf, who took a half-day off from work to attend Moore’s funeral at Arlington. “He said, ‘Don’t bother, I prefer the breeze.’ ”

It was Bill Sheppard and Nick Adams who spearheaded the effort to make Moore’s funeral something more than minimal. The two single retirees count themselves among the State House’s “sociables,” those residents who make a point to chat in the lobby, to pierce the urban anonymity of a busy city dwelling.

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