Good Samaritan looking for relatives of deceased woman

Amy Hatfield has a guest in her house she would like to send home with someone.

"I don't want to bury her," Hatfield said. "I want to give her to a relative."

That's right. The visitor in Hatfield's home is dead.

And she has been cremated.

Her name is Lillie Emma Gruber. Hatfield calls her respectfully "Miss Lillie" and would like to find a relative who cares about Miss Lillie as much as she does. In seven years, she's had no success.

How Hatfield came into possession of Miss Lillie's ashes is a story that began with a good deed.

Hatfield had a friend who had another friend who needed a place to live for awhile. That friend's friend's name was Eric Moorman, Hatfield said, and he had been a guest himself for awhile of the state of Missouri.

A self-described do-gooder and champion of the underdog, Hatfield was a Good Samaritan and offered to let the young man bunk on her couch while he looked for work and built a stake. She expected him to help out around the house to earn his room and board.

"He was very helpful," Hatfield said.

While talking one evening, Moorman revealed that his mother had passed away while he was gone. He didn't know where the funeral had been held if anywhere.

Hatfield said she began an investigation.

"I called the genealogical society, I called funeral homes, I called everyone," she said. "I found an obituary."

From that obituary, she found out what funeral home had handled the arrangements. She also found out that no one had claimed the body of Miss Lillie, so the funeral director had done what the law required. He cremated her because no one in the family had given any direction.

The funeral director had the urn filled with ashes, so Hatfield paid him $50 and took it to her home to give to her boarder, the deceased woman's son.

"He was overjoyed," Hatfield said. He pried open the urn and filled a little medicine bottle with his mother's ashes so he could have them with him at all times.

Then, sometime later, Hatfield came home and the young man had packed up and gone.

That was the last she heard from him. She assumed he had taken the urn filled with his mother's ashes with him, for it was not to be seen anywhere in the house.

Three years later while cleaning out a closet, preparing to move, she found the urn. It's actually a plastic box about 8 inches by 5 inches by 1 foot. A sticker notes Miss Lillie's name and dates the cremation on Dec. 10, 2004.

Since then, she has kept it, taking it with her on subsequent moves. Miss Lillie has been helpful in those moves. Once while some friends were helping Hatfield move a couch, she asked who was holding the door.

"Miss Lillie," came the reply. And sure enough, there was the urn serving as a doorstop.

"We bring her out on holidays and make her part of our celebration," Hatfield said. "We don't want her to be lonely."

But she added that she and her husband would like to let someone else care for Miss Lillie for awhile.

Some friends with an extra burial plot have offered to put her in the cemetery.

Hatfield said she doesn't want to do that. She wants to give the ashes to a loved one, so Miss Lillie can have a home.

"She was a person. She had a life. She deserves that," Hatfield said.