Unmarked grave found 45 years after death

Posted: Wednesday, November 01, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- Forty-five years after John McIntyre died here, his family now knows where his unmarked grave lies.

John Edward McIntyre, a 33-year-old Juneau Empire reporter, was reported missing Sept. 15, 1955, and his brother Graham and his mother, Clara McIntyre, were told he had committed suicide.

The circumstances have haunted Graham, now 70, ever since. He wrote to the newspaper in August, hoping to locate his brother's grave so he could have a marker erected, and then have a photo taken, but the Empire's archives were unable to help.

This week, Graham McIntyre called the paper to say he'd found not only the grave, but more detail about the death.

''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.''

After John's body was found floating near a downtown dock, a coroner's inquest ruled the cause of death was accidental drowning. Alaska was then a territory, and territorial records are difficult to access.

But Graham found a death certificate showing that John was buried in Juneau's Evergreen Cemetery.

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.

Graham, who lives in Enid, Okla., is hiring a Juneau mortuary to create a marker that Hinkley will erect on John's grave.

''I am very relieved,'' McIntyre said. ''I'm glad I found somebody to help me.''

Juneau has no burial ground for paupers or unknown people, Hinkley said, but a lot of the people in Evergreen's 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.''

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