Left to right: Leslie Jack Hyams, Mary Elizabeth Smith Ackermann Hyams, Dorothy Ann Meyerhofer Smith Ackermann, Louise Meyerhofer Haskell, Edward Lee Ackermann (holding up Honey the dog)
Remember Edward Ackermann, the guy I found in the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Unclaimed Persons Database?
Here’s his story:
Edward Lee Ackermann was born in 1926 in Richmond, Virginia. He was adopted by Fred Ackermann and his second wife, Dorothy Ann Meyerhofer. Dorothy already had an adopted daughter, Mary Elizabeth, from her previous marriage.
When he was 16, Ed applied for a Social Security card so that he could work at the Sears and Roebuck store on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles. When he was 18, he joined the Army, and he served for three years. I don’t know yet what he did for a living when he got out of the Army, but I know he’d been a security guard for two years prior to his death at age 68. He never married, and lived with his mother for many years (in fact, the house he died in in 1994 on Glenville Drive in Los Angeles is the same one listed as his mother’s residence when she died in 1967).
Ed died of natural causes, and was found by the wife of his roommate/friend, Robert Walton. Ed had written a letter for Robert years before saying that he was adopted, his parents were dead and he had no other family, and that he was a veteran. Robert turned the letter over to the police when they came to investigate Ed’s death, and that’s how Ed came to be buried at Riverside National Cemetery.
As it turns out, Ed did have family when he died. His parents had divorced sometime before they both died in the 1960s, and Ed’s sister Mary Elizabeth died in 1982. Ed and his sister’s family had been estranged for years, and they had no idea that he had passed away. In looking for clues about him, I found them. They gave me the picture above, and some details about his life. It’s funny how Ed’s alone-ness at the end of his life ended up bringing together some branches from his family tree years later.
I’m both relieved and a little sad that Ed’s story turned out to be so ordinary. I had pictured some dramatic end…homelessness, or a crime scene, or some other scenario that probably comes from having watched too much Law and Order. In truth, his story didn’t have any “ripped from the headlines” twist. It could be the story of any of us. I find that a little unsettling.
But I’m glad I “met” him.