Sanitation Department team returns man’s remains to family
Three City of Bartlesville Sanitation Department employees have made one family’s Christmas a little more special this year by reuniting them with their loved one’s remains after they were discovered in the City’s trash system.
Family members of a deceased Bartlesville resident contacted City officials recently to recognize supervisor Craig Gordineer and sanitation collectors Nathan Williams and Brandon Lopez for their actions.
While performing their normal duties earlier this month, Williams and Lopez noticed a wooden box, which contained the urn and remains of a Bartlesville man. Recognizing the significance of the item and assuming it had been discarded by accident, the two retrieved the box from the trash in hopes of returning it to the appropriate person. After a local search turned up no willing recipients, Williams contacted Gordineer for direction.
“We thought, surely this isn’t a situation where there is no family member who wants this,” Gordineer said.
He turned out to be right.
Using the Internet and social media, Gordineer located and contacted the man’s daughter, who lives out of state. In a letter to City officials last week, she said she cried upon hearing the news that her father’s ashes had been found.
“I can’t thank them enough,” she wrote in an email to the city manager. “Their thoughtfulness and consideration — for people they don’t even know — have blessed my family. I just want to say loud and clear: These three men did something wonderful for my family.”
City officials also received an email from the man’s sister, who called Gordineer, Williams and Lopez’s actions “a Christmas Miracle.”
“For such an unappreciated job, the fact that Nathan Williams and Brandon Lopez noticed a container and retrieved it to take to their boss, Mr. Craig Gordineer, is truly a miracle in itself,” she wrote. “Then, for (Gordineer) to go to the lengths to try and locate the next of kin — well, it goes beyond his job description.
“His remains are with his family that love him, and we owe it all to your staff. You truly have witnessed a Christmas Miracle, as well as our whole family. I consider it was God working through your wonderful staff to return him to his family. God bless all of you from the bottom of my heart. You have already given me the greatest gift of all.”
The man’s remains were turned over to another family member on Dec. 14.
“I’m glad we were able to help,” Gordineer said. “We didn’t want him to end up in a landfill.”
Acting City Manager Mike Bailey commended Gordineer, Williams and Lopez for a job well done.
“What they have done for this man’s family is remarkable,” Bailey said. “They have given the family a precious gift by going above and beyond their regular duties. They are true public servants, and their efforts are applauded by us all.”