From: mrc@Tomobiki-Cho.CAC.Washington.EDU (Mark Crispin)
Subject: a sad story to keep firmly in mind
Date: 11 Sep 90 22:58:56 GMT
[From the Philadelphia Chapter of American Atheists:]
In 1946, Claude William Dukenfield, at age 65 died of a stomach
hemmorage and cirrosis of the liver. Claude's dying wish was to
receive "no religious service," and he stated in his will that he
wanted to use most of his three quarters of a million dollars to
create a college for "orphan white boys and girls" where "no religion
of any sort is to be preached."
In Claude's will he stated that he wanted his body to be cremated
and that there be no religious service or public funeral, rituals that
he often ridiculed. His estranged wife, Harriet, was a devout
Catholic and forbade cremation. Claude's friends had a simple
non-sectarian service, then Harriet had a Catholic funeral. Claude
had a mistress, Carlotta, who had a spiritual reading of her own. He
did not want an observance of his death, and got three. He wanted to
be cremated and he was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, which he
satirized in life.
In his will he left his wife and son $20,000, to be divided
equally; and he left $25,000 for his mistress. For four years his
wife fought to get his money in the courts. At the end there was
$65,000 left for his wife and no money was left for the college.
Claude William Dukenfield, who was born in Philadelphia on
January 29, 1880, is better known as W.C. Fields. All of his desires
to be remembered as an Atheist were disgraced by the religious. The
W.C. Fields College, which would have been the first college in
America dedicated to no religion, will never happen due to his greedy
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