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Note Says Williams Wished to Be Frozen

Jurisprudence: Children John Henry and Claudia Williams claim signed document supersedes baseball great's will.

July 26, 2002|From Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. — Four years after signing a will calling for his cremation, baseball great Ted Williams entered a pact with two of his children asking that his body be frozen, according to court documents filed Thursday.

Williams' scrawled signature, along with those of son John Henry and daughter Claudia, appears at the bottom of a handwritten note on a scrap of paper dated Nov. 2, 2000.

"JHW, Claudia and Dad all agree to be put into bio-stasis after we die," reads the pact, written with a ballpoint blue pen. "This is what we want, to be able to be together in the future, even if it is only a chance."

Family attorney Bob Goldman said the note was written in a Gainesville hospital room four days before the Hall of Fame slugger had a pacemaker installed.

The attorney said John Henry Williams wrote the note and that it would supersede the wishes detailed in Williams' 1996 will.

The slugger's three children have been fighting over his remains since he died July 5 at the age of 83.

John Henry Williams has had his father's body preserved at a cryonics lab in Arizona, where the dead are frozen in the hope they can be resurrected someday.

Bobby-Jo Williams Ferrell, the half-sister of John Henry and Claudia, wants to retrieve her father's body, cremate it and sprinkle his ashes off Florida's coast, as Williams' will dictates.

The dispute is almost certain to be settled by a judge.

In a statement Thursday, John Henry and Claudia Williams said: "With relief we have provided the court with clear-cut, definitive evidence that our father's last wishes have been carried out and we hope this will bring closure to this issue."

The note has several small dark stains, apparently oil or grease. Goldman said John Henry Williams had folded the note and left it in some files in the trunk of his car for an extended time.

One of Ferrell's attorneys, Richard Fitzpatrick, said that if the note is the only evidence John Henry and Claudia Williams can muster supporting their case, then Ferrell would win the court fight.

"We will certainly want to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding this document," he said.

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