McHenry County pays its respects at funeral for homeless U.S. Navy veteran

Steven R. Dobry, son of U.S. Navy veteran Steven Douglas Dobry, listens to the funeral service for his father Wednesday at Woodland Cemetery in McHenry.
Steven R. Dobry, son of U.S. Navy veteran Steven Douglas Dobry, listens to the funeral service for his father Wednesday at Woodland Cemetery in McHenry.

They may not have all known him in person, but that didn’t stop dozens of attendees who came to pay their respects and honor Steven Douglas Dobry’s life Wednesday at his funeral service at Woodland Cemetery in McHenry.

Dobry, a homeless U.S. Navy veteran, died Oct. 19 at Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital.

After being contacted by a chaplain at the hospital, Mark Justen of Justen Funeral Home & Crematory in McHenry started planning the service.

Justen Funeral Home & Crematory director Robert Justen said that although he hoped for a big turnout at the funeral, the funeral home initially didn’t know what to expect.

“It just shows how McHenry County comes together. ... This shows there’s a lot of love in the McHenry area, a lot of caring individuals,” Robert Justen said. “All these veterans didn’t know him personally, but that bond, that military bond; it’s something that is impressive.”

The funeral home initially was unable to locate members of Dobry’s family, but later found his son and namesake, Steven R. Dobry, after a McHenry resident searched for Dobry’s family after reading an article about the search for relatives in the Northwest Herald. After being contacted, the family reached out to Justen.

At the funeral, Steven Douglas Dobry’s son was presented with folded American flags.

“I appreciate everyone that was involved in the ceremony; it was really beautiful,” Steven R. Dobry said. “It was cool to see the support.”

Belvidere resident Stacy Kolls was one of the people who came to the funeral for a man she had never met.

Kolls found out about the funeral through Facebook. At that point, the funeral home still was searching for the veteran’s family.

“I couldn’t bear to see him sent off alone,” Kolls said.

Koll’s father also was a Navy veteran who died at 60.

“The military people that I’ve known, they’re always brothers and sisters to each other in a way,” she said. “Even though I don’t know [Steven Douglas Dobry], he’s an uncle because my dad served in the Navy, as well.”

Organizations participating in the funeral included the McHenry American Legion Post 491, whose members fired three shots into the air with their rifles; two Mid-Atlantic Naval Honors sailors, who folded the American flag on top of Steven Douglas Dobry’s casket and presented it to his son; and Illinois Patriot Guard members who acted as pallbearers. The Rev. Tom Rogers of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church presided over the service.

Tom Stern, part of the organization “True Patriots Care,” which is based out of Elgin, was one of the volunteers who helped put up about 100 American flags around the cemetery where the funeral service was.

“I would say it’s heart-warming,” Stern said about the number of people who attended.

For Vietnam veteran Jim Reynolds, of Round Lake Park, it always is a privilege to honor a veteran.

“The fact that this many people were willing to come out makes you feel that there’s still some good people who truly honor the veteran’s sacrifices,” Reynolds said.

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