Government foul-up for his burial is the kind of tale columnist would have loved to tell

Don Boxmeyer would have absolutely loved writing a tale like this.

“Box,” the longtime columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, wrote about the people and places that make St. Paul unique; the neighborhood bars, the brawlers, the homeless guys, the cops on the beat, long-suffering waitresses.

And he never shirked from pointing out the foibles and follies that plague our everyday lives. Like this very personal one:

Boxmeyer died Sunday at age 67 after a long illness. Visitation is from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Bradshaw Funeral Home, 678 S. Snelling Ave., and the funeral is Friday at 11 a.m. at First Lutheran Church, Eighth and Maria, in St. Paul.

After the service, he was supposed to be buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. He’d served in the Navy in the 1960s, even spending time in the Antarctic.

But while finalizing funeral arrangements, Don’s wife, Kathy, learned there’d been a snafu. Somehow, during his Naval discharge, a clerk wrote down the wrong date. On his official papers, it looks like he left the Navy the same day he joined.

So until the paperwork is resolved — and that could take weeks, they say — there’ll be no military send-off for Don.

Kathy Boxmeyer said she was upset at first because people were flying in for the funeral, and now it was going to be delayed. But she soon saw a solution.

“It’s turned out to be a blessing; after the funeral on Friday, we’re taking Don’s remains (ashes) to Mancini’s (Char House on West Seventh Street, one of Don’s favorite haunts). Then each kid is going to take him home for a night, then I’ll take him home until everything is worked out,” she said.

One of Don’s sons may even take his dad’s ashes on a fishing trip.

“There’s been a lot of laughing over this,” Kathy Boxmeyer said. Don always generated lots of laughs while writing this kind of story.

“When all the problems are worked out, I’ll put another little obit in the paper and give the date of the burial and plan a ceremony, and anyone who wants to see him off with 20 minutes of taps and guns firing can come,” she said.

And it turns out the surgeon who transplanted a kidney and liver into Don in 2004 — giving him four extra years of life — is out of town this week and is distressed that she’ll miss the funeral. Kathy Boxmeyer said she’ll plan the Fort Snelling burial around the surgeon’s schedule, because Don would have wanted her there.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Mike Hazard on 08/16/2008 - 06:43 am.

    Don was fun.

    It was my great good luck to be in three stories Box wrote. My favorite was a eulogy for a neighbor of mine named Paul Leonard.

    A classic, the story made page one and Don was as jazzed as I was.

    At Paul’s funeral, members of the family were so grateful to have read a story in the paper which told them things about their crazy relative that they never really knew, I tear up thinking about it now.

    Thanks, Don.

  2. Submitted by John Olson on 08/13/2008 - 07:24 pm.

    If I had to guess, I would say that Don and Nick Mancini are looking down over St. Paul and having a good laugh over this.

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