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800 sign Kennedy condolence books

July 23, 1999|By ERIN HEATH

At least 800 people signed condolence books for the family of John F. Kennedy Jr. that were offered by three local funeral homes Thursday and Friday.

Douglas A. Fiery Funeral Home, Frank L. and Scott M. Minnich Funeral Home and Gerald N. Minnich Funeral Home offered the condolence books. By 5 p.m. Friday, they had received about 300, 350 and 150 signatures respectively.

"It's a sad situation but it's a pleasant response. People do still care in this country," said Gerald Minnich.

The books were the idea of Hagerstown resident Joan Geary, 74. Geary said she called the funeral homes because she felt sympathy for members of the Kennedy family, who lost John Kennedy Jr., his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and his sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette, in a plane crash July 16.

Geary said she was "overwhelmed" by the number of people who signed the condolence books.

Funeral home staff members also said they were surprised at the amount of interest in the books.

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"Last night we had people coming in until 7:30," said Fiery Funeral Home secretary Beverly Flanagan, who was only scheduled to take signatures until 5 p.m. "Somebody even sent a red, white and blue wreath."

The condolence book had signers from as far south as Georgia and Florida, Flanagan said.

Geary said she will pick up the books on Monday morning and give them to Del. Robert McKee, R-Washington. McKee will then arrange to present the books to Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a cousin of John Kennedy Jr.

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