Body of actor Sherman Hemsley remains stored in El Paso funeral home freezer
Friends of Sherman Hemsley in El Paso say they have been unable to have a funeral for the beloved actor and his body remains stored in the freezer of an East El Paso funeral home as his will is contested.
Hemsley's estate was left to Flora Isela Enchinton, 56, after he died on July 24 of lung cancer.
Local television station, KVIA-Channel 7, first reported the story Tuesday.
Enchinton and Hemsley were best friends and business partners, she said. In the hospital, Hemsley told doctors that she was his next of kin, she said.
However, a man named Richard Thornton is challenging the will claiming he is the Hemsley's brother and rightful next-of-kin.
Because the challenge must be settled in El Paso County's Probate Court No. 1, Hemsley's body has not been buried and instead has been kept at a local funeral home.
"Realistically, I've really been very surprised," Enchinton said. "You don't know what this world is about until something like this happens."
Enchinton said that she and Hemsley lived together, along with 72-year-old Kenny Johnston, for 16 years.
Johnston was Hemsley's business partner and together they were going to manage Enchinton's daughter, who was a singer. Over time Enchinton joined the two men as a business partner and helped manage Hemsley.
Hemsley and Johnston moved to El Paso and shared a house with Enchinton. After Johnston suffered a stroke, Enchinton and Hemsley were his caretakers.
"I was not only his manager, he was my best friend," Enchinton said. "This was someone close to me. He was a large part of my life."
Enchinton said the dispute over his estate has been stressful and made the grieving period tougher that she ever anticipated.
"The most important thing for me is to do what is right for Sherman," she said. "To give him his dignity and respect that he deserves. This is something embarrassing for his name right now."
So now it's Weezy and Freezy.
"his body remains stored in the freezer of an East El Paso funeral home"
His body has been moved on up to the East Side (of El Paso).
So it wasn't his boyfriend but his business partner in El Paso.
[quote]the challenge must be settled in El Paso County's Probate Court No. 1, Hemsley's body has not been buried and instead has been kept at a local funeral home.
I know the feeling.
Celeste Holm - still frozen
From The Advocate:
"While there was no official confirmation during his lifetime, there was frequent speculation that Hemsley, famed for his portrayal of the bigoted dry cleaning mogul on the hit sitcom The Jeffersons, was a gay man. A 2007 VH1 story that listed three favorite allegedly gay black actors from the past put Hemsley in the top spot."
If you read the article it mentions 72 year old Kenny Johnston who I assume was the partner. Maybe he is not well enough to handle such affairs.
Well we're moving on up, moving on up
To an East Side freezer in El Paso
We're moving on up, moving on up
We finally got a place next to the frozen pie
"El Paso probate court to hear dispute over actor Sherman Hemsley estate"
This is my favorite line from the linked article (someone should teach the journalist the terms "great grandmother" and "aunt"):
"Robert Wells, who said his mother's grandmother was the sister of Hemsley's mother, said neither Enchinton Bernal nor Thornton should be the beneficiary."
Relatives of Sherman Hemsley contesting estate again
More than a year after actor Sherman Hemsley was buried, the fight over his estate and remains continues.
Now, the Eight Court of Appeals, which had a hearing the matter Thursday, will have the final say on who gets Hemsley's estate.
Richard and Robert Thornton, Hemsley's family members, are appealing a 2012 decision that upheld the will of Hemsley and gave his estate to his friend and business partner Flora Isela Enchinton Bernal. As part oof the appeal, lawyers for both sides gave oral arguments on Thursday.
The Eight Court of Appeals justices will take both arguments into consideration. A ruling could take several weeks or months.
Hemsley, famous for his portrayal of George Jefferson in the sitcom "The Jeffersons," died from lung cancer in July 2012.
His funeral was delayed until November because Richard Thornton, his biological half- brother from Philadelphia, took Enchinton to court over the estate and the right to bury him.
Judge Patricia Chew ruled in 2012 that Enchinton was the proper beneficiary.
On Thursday, the Thornton's lawyer, James D. Lucas, said it was "disturbing" that Enchinton, not Hemsley, called Julian Horwitz, the lawyer who drew up the will, to write up the will.
According to testimony in the probate hearings, Enchinton called Horwitz and then Horwitz met Hemsley and read him the will in the hospital.
"The way the will was executed should raise some concern," Lucas said in court. "Mr. Hemsley wanted to do it very fast. So was it read to him in three minutes, five minutes or more? He didn't know what was in the will."
But Francisco Ortega, lawyer for Enchinton, countered by saying five witnesses testified that Hemsley insisted that Enchinton receive everything.
"He repeatedly stated that he wanted Mrs. (Enchinton) Bernal to handle everything," Ortega said.
Lucas also argued that even if Enchinton was the beneficiary, that the Health Code states that Thornton should have decided where he was buried because they are related.
But Ortega said that code is "moot" since Hemsley has been buried at Fort Bliss National Cemetery and to dig him up would be disrespectful.