PHILADELPHIA — The blue suit and black boots were right, but mourners at a retired trucker’s funeral suspected they were gazing at the wrong man.
Some friends and family members kissed the body, despite whispers that something seemed amiss.
After a two-hour viewing Tuesday, the funeral home came clean: it had brought the wrong casket to the church.
After the revelation, neither Kenneth “Tex” Roberts’ family nor the body were in any shape for a final farewell, so the service was postponed.
“They tried to make us believe that it was him. I was so sure that it wasn’t,” widow Janie Holsey, 62, said Wednesday. “But … I’ve never handled anybody that died.”
The man in the casket looked older and taller than Roberts, an 80-year-old Army veteran known for his playful spirit and eagerness to lend a hand.
Holsey insists that she questioned the funeral home.
“I know he didn’t look like that,” Holsey said. “It was a fiasco … a nightmare.”
The James Hawkins Funeral Home Funeral Home, which handled arrangements, declined to comment.
Amid the chaos of the casket-switch Tuesday, two of Roberts’ 56 grandchildren collapsed and were taken to hospitals. A grandson, a young adult with a history of seizures, remained hospitalized Wednesday, but a granddaughter with asthma troubles was released, a relative said.
The family is now making new plans for his burial. They hope to arrange a proper funeral for their patriarch.
“We don’t want to make two mistakes,” Holsey said.