Where Is My Cousin Really Buried?

In 1940, Donald Weil, my fourth cousin, once removed, was living with his parents, Adele Sigmund and Raymond Weil, working as the assistant manager of the lamp department in a store in Cleveland.1 When his father died in 1943, Donald was a lieutenant in the US Army, stationed in England.2 There is a record on Ancestry showing that a Donald J. Weil enlisted on October 15, 1940 and served in the Army Corp of Engineers; I am certain that this is the same Donald Weil as the record indicates that he was from Cleveland and that his civil occupation had been as a purchasing agent or buyer.3

Donald married Jane Weingarten in 1954 in New York City,4 and they had two children. By 1970, the family was living in the Orlando area of Florida. Jane died there on December 21, 1992, at the age of 67.

Death notice for Jane Carol Weil, The Orlando Sentinel, Orlando, Florida
23 Dec 1992, Wed • Page 28

And that brings me to the mystery of Donald Weil. There are two FindAGrave memorials for Donald J. Weil with the same birth and death dates, both in Florida, but not in the same cemetery.

The first can be found here:

It shows that Donald J Weil was born on August 28, 1916, which is consistent with the birth record I have for the Donald who was the son of Raymond Weil.5 This FindAGrave memorial reports that Donald died at age 93 on April 26, 2010, in Longwood, Florida, which is where Jane Weingarten Weil was living in 1992 when she died. It also indicates that Donald was buried at Woodlawn Memorial Park, in Gotha, Florida.

Most importantly, there is a long biography written by Donald’s daughter on this FindAGrave page. It provided the best clues as to Donald’s life after World War II—that he ended up working in a large retail store in Detroit. Searching for Donald Weil in the Detroit newspapers, I learned that Donald had purchased a store in Detroit in June, 1960. In 1970 the family relocated to Florida, as noted above.

Detroit Free Press, Detroit, Michigan, 19 Jun 1960, Sun • Page 38

I also was able to locate a death notice for Donald J. Weil in the Orlando Sentinel of May 6, 2010, reporting that Donald had died on April 26, 2010, in Longwood, Florida.6

So what is the mystery, you ask?

Look at this FindAGrave memorial here:

A Donald Jay Weil—with the same exact birth and death dates as “my” Donald. This one is also buried in Florida, but at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Florida, which is 80 miles west of Longwood, Florida. This Donald is definitely not Jewish. There is a cross on his headstone. Remember that Jane Weil’s death notice specifically mentioned that she was Jewish. But perhaps Donald was not. I have no record indicating his religious identification.

The headstone for this Donald shows he served in World War II and Korea; I don’t know if my Donald served in Korea, but we know he served in World War II. And the dates on the headstone are 1916 to 2010, same as my Donald. If not for those engraved dates, I would have just assumed that whoever created the FindAGrave memorial had confused this Donald with my Donald.

There is only one Donald Weil in the Veteran’s Affairs, BIRL database on Ancestry who was born in 1916 and died in 2010.7 I searched on Fold3.com for any Donald Weil who served in World War II. There were a number of men with that name, but no one else born in 1916 other than my Donald Weil.

A search of Ancestry for any record of any Donald Weil born in 1916 anywhere in the US turned up one, a marriage record for a Donald G. Weil born in about 1916, son of John Weil and Margaret Kuper, who married Helen Kennedy in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, on June 24, 1952.8 But further research revealed that in fact that Donald Weil was born October 3, 1925, in Kentucky, not in August of 1916.9 So that can’t be the Donald Weil buried in the Florida National Cemetery. In fact, that Donald Weil died in 1997, not 2010.

So who is the Donald Jay Weil buried at the Florida National Cemetery? Is he my cousin Donald with just a military memorial placed at that cemetery with his body buried at the Woodlawn cemetery? Or perhaps the opposite?

I called the Florida National Cemetery, and their representative said that Donald J. Weil is definitely buried there and that perhaps his body had been moved from Woodlawn cemetery and reinterred at Florida National. So next I called Woodlawn cemetery. Their representative searched for Donald and did not find him. Thus, I believe that Donald was moved to the Florida National Cemetery sometime after his daughter created the memorial at FindAGrave and that both FindAGrave memorials are for the same man, my cousin Donald Jay Weil.

 

 

 


  1. Raymond Weil family, 1940 US census, Census Place: Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: m-t0627-03049; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 18-56, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  2. “Raymond M. Weil,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 3, 1943, p. 9. 
  3.  Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. Original data: National Archives and Records Administration. Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946 [Archival Database]; ARC: 1263923. World War II Army Enlistment Records; Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 64; National Archives at College Park. College Park, Maryland, U.S.A. 
  4.  License Number: 28246, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  5. Name: Donald J Weil, Birth Date: Aug 1916, State File Number: 1916067870
    Additional Information: Raymont, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Birth Index, 1908-1964. Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. 
  6. The Orlando Sentinel – 6 May 2010 – Page B8 
  7. Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 
  8. Film Number: 002251850, Ancestry.com. Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993 
  9. SSN: 299168233, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007