Organization pays for funeral of vet found frozen from hypothermia

Last week FOX 2 told the story of Freya Keener's father, John Skelley, found dead from the cold. 

He was wrapped in blankets in his Hazel Park home as the heat had been turned off at the Vietnam Veteran's home in January. Investigators say the cause of death was hypothermia and other medical conditions.

"Me and my family, we know that my dad deserves the best and we couldn't give it to him," Keener said.

When Rob Gilmour of the veterans group Hangin With the Heroes heard about Skelley, he sprang into action.

"(I felt a) combination of anger and sickness seeing that," he said. "We knew immediately we had to do something." 

Gilmour is the founder of Hangin' With the Heroes. 

"The purpose of Hangin' With the Heroes is to take care of our brave men and women that serve our country," Gilmour said. "He's a veteran,  the man served two tours in Vietnam.  For him to die frozen, alone in his home is unconscionable." 

Gilmour and other members of his organization decided to give Skelley a funeral.

"We're going to cover all expenses of funeral at Wessels and Wilk Funeral Home in Pleasant Ridge," Gilmour said. "He will be buried at Great Lakes National Cemetery, we've handled all the arrangements for that. 

"Afterwards we'll have the wake at Ferndale Elks Lodge and cover all the expenses of that as well." 

Keener says she is grateful for the generosity.

"Thank you for getting word out," she said. "It's really cool. All the support they are getting in, is really cool."

Members of Hangin With the Heroes have raised thousands of dollars for the funeral but they still need a little more.

"We've still got a ways to go to be able to cover this but we'll make it happen," Gilmour said, adding his group is about $1,500 short.

Gilmour says his organization wants to make sure other veterans don't suffer like Skelley.

"If you are family member of a veteran, a friend of a vet you know is in trouble, contact us," he said. "If we can't directly help we will find the people that can help."

Funeral information:

Viewing at Wessels & Wilk Funeral Home, 23690 Woodward Ave., Pleasant Ridge  from 2-7 p.m. Feb. 16.

Funeral at Wessels & Wilk at  6 p.m. Feb. 16.

Military Service at Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 17

Wake at Ferndale Elks Club at 22856 Woodward Ave in Ferndale at 3 p.m. Feb. 17

The public is invited to attend all events

For donations to help pay for Skelley funeral you can mail checks to payable to Ferndale Elks

Ferndale Elks Lodge

22856 Woodward, Ferndale 48220

In the memo portion of the check, put Hangin' With the Heroes or John Skelley. Donations are tax deductible. 
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