Graham McIntyre was appalled that his brother, John, might be lying in an unmarked grave in Juneau for 45 years.
John Edward McIntyre, 33, an Empire reporter who sometimes covered sports, was reported missing Sept. 15, 1955, and Graham and his mother, Clara McIntyre, were told he had committed suicide.
The circumstances have haunted Graham ever since.
He first wrote to the Empire in August, hoping to locate his brother's grave so he could have a marker erected, and then have a photo taken. Empire archives were unable to help.
This week, Graham McIntyre, 70, the youngest of six brothers and sisters, was again in touch.
"Finally, I gained information on my brother's death, and it is complete compared with information that my mother received shortly after his death," he said.
"She got some bad information from somebody up there, and she was very disturbed. Too bad she passed away not knowing it was declared an accident," Graham McIntyre said Tuesday.
After John's body was found floating near a downtown dock, a coroner's inquest held Nov. 11, 1955, ruled the cause of death was accidental drowning. Alaska was then a territory, and territorial records are difficult to access. However, finally a death certificate was turned up showing that John was buried in Juneau's Evergreen Cemetery. The certificate said John was born in Nebraska City, Neb., and divorced. He had one son, John Aaron McIntyre, of Oklahoma City. "Aaron," as he is known, is 46.
Terry Hinkley of the city Department of Parks and Landscape Maintenance is in charge of Evergreen. When he checked his records for "McIntyre," there was no such person. But when he looked at misspellings, he came up with a "McFontyre" buried in 1955, listed as Burial No. 4058.
"It's quite common to have misspellings, especially the older the records go," Hinkley said. "But we correct them when we get the right documentation."
Graham McIntyre lives in Enid, Okla. He is getting in touch with Bill Wilkerson at Alaskan Mortuary to have a marker created and placed on his brother's grave. "This is something we do all the time for relatives who don't live here," Wilkerson said.
Hinkley is able to locate unmarked graves with a metal detector, and by measuring set distances from marked graves, he said.
McIntyre rests in an area near Seater Street and the cemetery's only flagpole, which has very few headstones. As soon as a headstone is created, Hinkley will erect it. "But that might not be until spring if the ground is frozen," he said. He also offered to take a digital photograph of the marker in place for Graham.
Although large cities often have a potter's field a burial ground for paupers or unknown people Juneau does not have such a plot, per se, Hinkley said.
"But a lot of the people in the 'general' section are uncertain in identity. There are a number of grave sites that we have no records for, and some we have names for but we will never know the exact location," Hinkley said. "Those sites probably had a very low level of funding, and we just didn't keep records."
"I am very relieved. I'm glad I found somebody to help me," Graham McIntyre said.
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