06/27/08 — AF reservist looking for help to bury her great-grandmother

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AF reservist looking for help to bury her great-grandmother

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on June 27, 2008 1:45 PM

Air Force reservist Lisa Colebrook is looking for help.

Speaking by telephone Thursday as she and her four children drove up to New York City, she knew that help wasn't likely to come before the scheduled funeral service today, but she remained hopeful that she would somehow come up with the money to bury her great-grandmother in their family cemetery before she is sent to a potter's field.

"It's simply on blind faith," she said. "We have to believe that someone is going to come through by the grace of God."

It's an obstacle that she never expected to face.

After all, Ms. Colebrook explained, her great-grandmother had a life insurance policy.

However, unbeknownst to the rest of the family, she had cashed in that policy in 1997 to pay for her sister's funeral.

"What she did, at her age, was one of the most altruistic moves anyone I know has ever made," Ms. Colebrook said.

At the time of her death, Mary Davis was officially 113 years old -- though with no birth certificate to really prove otherwise, she claimed to be 120.

Born the child of former slaves in Sumter, S.C., Ms. Davis eventually made her way north to the Bronx in New York City.

"She's seen some things," Ms. Colebrook said. "And I think it's absolutely extraordinary that she went from being the child of slaves to seeing a black man run for president."

And so, Ms. Colebrook continued, she hopes she will be able to raise the almost $5,000 she needs to pay for her funeral and burial.

She just doesn't know how much time she has to do so, explaining that while the funeral home may be willing to keep her great-grandmother for a few days longer, she will eventually go back to the hospital and then on to the indigent graveyard.

"She deserves better than that," Ms. Colebrook said.

Anyone who interested in helping can call Ms. Colebrook, a member of the 916th Air Refueling Wing's Civil Engineering Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, at 394-3701.