Chasing a Dead Cousin-Part 1?

I got this phone call on November 19th from someone in Helena, MT who works for the State of Montana retirement division. She was calling to confirm the closure of my cousin’s estate. The first part of the conversation was rather convoluted, you see, because she had no idea that I didn’t already know my cousin had died. She had to back track and apologize for being the first to tell me, and then, she had to explain why she would be calling me, of all people, to talk about his retirement funds.

So, the scoop is, my “crazy cousin Larry”–he’s dead so I guess libel worries no longer concern me–died in 2007. The SSDI only shows us that he died on April 10th, 2007 with his last known address of Napa, California. I hadn’t spoken to him since early 2007, and had received a rather freaky letter from him sometime just before he, I now have learned, died. It was one of those letters that made me look at the postmark (somewhere in Wyoming) and call the local sheriff’s department to warn them they had an indigent crazy man in their neighborhood.

Okay…so the woman in Montana wants to know if Larry left any descendants. I managed to check in with my brother’s and a cousin, and none of us are aware of any wives or children. That leaves the six of us in this generation as his “next of kin.” The State of Montana still doesn’t know exactly where he died, and was hoping we could help them clear this up.

Calls to various coroner’s offices in the Napa area have shed no light on his death whatsoever. Not one of the four counties in the area surrounding Napa have any sort of record of his death. After all of these calls, I decided to do a fresh SSDI search. Rootsweb has a free one online, so I found this:

His latest address was in Napa.

Okay, so the people working at the State of Montana don’t seem to know that the State of Montana issued his death certificate. Time to start looking into places in Montana he might have ended up last. Another phone call to the Social Security Office in Montana, the certificate was actually issued in Nebraska. You’d think with all the database software out there, this would be easier.

I’m looking for that last freaky letter from him–I am sure I put it “somewhere special” and now can’t remember where I might have filed it for future reference. It might give me a clue as to where else he might have been living. At the very least, I wouldn’t mind just knowing. The idea that someone could die so alone that no one in his family would know about it for three years is chilling and saddening.



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4 responses to “Chasing a Dead Cousin-Part 1?

  1. Now that’s a heck of a story.

    Here’s another sad family tale… I know of a man who took his elderly mother who was suffering from the repercussions of a stroke to Las Vegas, ended up living in a storage unit in Las Vegas, which would be like living in an oven, and when she died, he brought her back to Reno in a sleeping bag in the back of his car. Sounds crazy, but true. The daughter who had been wondering where her mother had gone off to with her brother found out about it while watching TV or reading it in the newspaper. Not sure which.

    You are not the only one who has strange relatives.

    • Well, it’s not like we were all that close. I had just, about a month before, told someone that I hadn’t heard from that particular cousin since before my mom died. I think everyone has strange relatives.

      Heck, I’m SOMEONE’s strange relative. 🙂 I just don’t think I’ll die so incredibly alone like that.

  2. Joe P

    Condolences on the death in the family. You may not have been all that close, but still: you did get a letter, which is more than I can say about many of my own cousins (to whom I haven’t written either, so it’s at least equal).

    Note: Pretty hard to read those two strikethrough sentences under the search info … maybe you meant italics? Anyway, hardly a surprise that a bureaucracy has one part not knowing what another part knows … why, it’s practically to be expected! 🙂

    • Actually the strikethroughs were followed by more writing. I posted the blog and then found out I was wrong, so I used the lines to show the mistake. I could have deleted it, but then it would be confusing to anyone who’d read it before. (Hope that makes some sort of sense.)

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