Originally created 07/17/02

Williams will asks cremation



INVERNESS, Fla. -- The family feud over Ted Williams' body deepened Tuesday when his will showed he wanted to be cremated, while the executor of his estate said the slugger later decided to be frozen.

In the will that was filed and made public Tuesday, Williams said he wanted his ashes "sprinkled at sea off the coast of Florida where the water is very deep."

But after he wrote his will on Dec. 20, 1996, the Hall of Famer expressed a desire to have his body frozen, according to the executor, Albert Cassidy.

"After the time of his will, Ted chose to have his body cryonically preserved," Cassidy said. He presented no documents to support his statement and refused to say how he knew of Williams' wish to be frozen.

Along with the will, Cassidy filed a petition asking a judge that Williams' body remain in a cryonics lab in Arizona.

Cassidy wrote he "is in doubt as to whether any change in the disposition of this decedent's body is required."

Richard Fitzpatrick, an attorney for Williams' oldest daughter, Bobby-Jo Williams Ferrell, said Cassidy offered nothing to back his claim that Williams wanted to be frozen indefinitely.

"I know the will is clear, even though the personal representative says something else," Fitzpatrick said.

The conflict between Williams' will and his later wishes came hours after his three children admitted they failed to resolve a stalemate over their father's remains, perhaps setting the stage for a contentious court battle over the will.

Bobby-Jo Williams Ferrell "remains convinced that her father's last wishes were to be cremated and to have his ashes spread over the deep waters off the coast of Florida," Fitzpatrick said.

John Henry Williams and Ferrell, his half sister, have been fighting over their father's remains since the Boston Red Sox great died July 5 at age 83.

John Henry Williams had his father's body flown to Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Ariz., to be frozen, against the wishes of Ferrell.

"While many may not make the same choice for themselves, I hope people will respect this as a private family matter," said Cassidy, a Winter Haven, Fla., real estate developer who was a lifelong friend of Ted Williams. Cassidy's father and Ted Williams were partners in a Massachusetts baseball camp.

A lawyer for John Henry Williams said in a statement he believed family members could still reach an understanding and that the siblings hoped to arrive at a private resolution.

"Everyone in the family is motivated by their love for their father and their grief at his passing," said Robert Goldman, the attorney, who also said he was representing John Henry Williams' sister, Claudia.

Cryonics advocates say science might one day be able to thaw a body, cure whatever killed the person and restore life. Most experts say that's highly unlikely.

Ferrell has also speculated that her half brother may want to sell their father's DNA.

At a news conference, Cassidy said nothing made Ted Williams happier than his relationship with John Henry and Claudia.

"I saw firsthand their devotion to their dad and I know that Ted would be hurt by some of the things that have been said about them," Cassidy said. "I am confident that their actions are inspired by their love for their father."

Ferrell, John Henry Williams and sister Claudia Williams met for hours Monday in discussions that were "civil, candid," Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick said mediation rules prevent him from giving more details about the negotiations. Both sides have 20 days to respond to the will, and a hearing could then be scheduled.

Also Monday, Ferrell learned she won't receive any money or property from her father's estate because, Ted Williams wrote, "I have provided for her during my life." Otherwise, Williams' assets are to be put in a trust, and its trustees are to decide their distribution, the will said.

During a tribute to Williams in his hometown of San Diego on Monday, sportscaster Dick Enberg begged that the slugger be cremated.

"If John Henry is listening, let the old fisherman go back to the sea," Enberg said.

In Detroit on Tuesday, where the Red Sox played the Tigers, a fan held up a sign reading, "Free Ted, Freeze John Henry."