Mark Justen of Justen Funeral Home & Crematory in McHenry received a call about a month ago from a chaplain at Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital.
The hospital was treating 60-year-old U.S. Navy veteran Steven Douglas Dobry, who was homeless and near death, with no family of which to speak. The chaplain had called because Justen’s has helped provide funeral services for veterans without money in the past.
Justen agreed to help with the funeral and now is planning a public memorial service for Dobry on Wednesday at Woodland Cemetery in McHenry.
“We wanted the community to know that he was a veteran and that he pretty much fell through the cracks,” Justen said. “I don’t want the guy to be buried alone. I want the community and county to know we take care of our veterans. We take care of everybody.”
Circumstances surrounding Dobry’s death and the location of his surviving family members are unclear.
The Marengo Fire Protection District responded to 6225 Lakewood Drive in Marengo for a report of a medical emergency. Paramedics transported Dobry to the hospital, where he was placed in the intensive care unit and later died. Marengo fire officials declined to provide more details about the incident, citing health privacy law.
The McHenry County Coroner’s Office had not provided a cause of death for Dobry by Wednesday afternoon.
A distant cousin provided authorization for medical treatment, but no other family has come forward, Justen said.
Dobry’s death certificate lists his mother as Darlene Cohen and stepfather as Robert H. Martens. An obituary for Martens, who died in 2010, lists two sons, Gary Dobry and Steven Dobry.
“We are still trying to find the trail,” Justen said. “We have phone numbers to call people, but they don’t answer.”
Dobry served in the Navy from March 1984 to December 1984 before he received an honorable discharge.
The Department of Veteran Affairs won’t bury Dobry in a VA national cemetery because he didn’t serve in the armed forces for at least two years, a standard put into place for anyone serving after Sept. 7, 1980, according to the VA.
Everything from the casket to vault to grave site and funeral services have been donated, Justen said. McHenry Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4600, McHenry American Legion Auxiliary Post 491, Polish Legion of American Veterans Post 188 and the county’s Veteran’s Assistance Commission are participating in the service.
Members of the McHenry Township Fire Protection District and the McHenry Police Department plan to provide an escort from the funeral home to the cemetery.
The service will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Woodland Cemetery, 1601 N. Richmond Road, McHenry.