SHRUB OAK, NY (News 12 Westchester/CNN) – He served his country with honor, but when his passing came, there were no living family members to give a New York veteran of World War II a proper farewell.
That’s where the generosity of an unlikely friend, and a community, came shining through.
With no family left of his own to perform the solemn ritual, it was members of the New York Police Department’s honor guard who acted as pallbearers at the funeral for 97-year-old Bob Graham on Friday.
On the otherwise somber day, the funeral attendees spontaneously applauded 27-year-old Beth Regan.
Regan befriended Graham at his Yorktown nursing home years ago, and the decorated Marine became like a grandfather to her.
When Graham died on April 12, Regan was determined he get a hero’s farewell, even though he had no living relatives.
Through social media, she was able to spread the word about Graham.
The response was overwhelming. Hundreds of people showed up to pay their respects to a man they never knew.
"He was such a special person,” Regan said. “His life was so incredible, and his story really spoke to so many people's hearts. So, this is really a touching tribute and a sendoff for an incredible man."
The Westchester County Firefighters’ Emerald Society was also there, among the hundreds of veterans, police officers and ordinary people who came out to honor the American hero.
Graham was laid to rest next to his wife Rosie at a cemetery in the Bronx.