RACINE — Donald Sura, Sr., 89, had 18 grandchildren and 38 great grandchildren. None of them were permitted to attend his funeral on Saturday due to a ban on gatherings larger than 10 people issued by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Efforts by Gov. Tony Evers and WDHS to stop the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, have put a halt to a traditional part of the grieving process: The gathering of family and friends to mourn together.
Maresh-Meredith and Acklam Funeral Home, 803 Main St., is still serving families who have lost loved ones, but mourners are either holding off on public memorials until a later date or having private family services with only 10 people in attendance.
“No one’s happy with it, but they understand the situation,” said Tom Meredith, funeral director at Maresh-Meredith. “I think that’s probably true with the bars and the restaurants and everybody.”
The state also has ordered bars and restaurants to halt in-house dining. Take-out and delivery is still permitted.
Limiting funeral and burial services to 10 people forces families to make painful decisions regarding who can attend and who must stay home.
“If you’ve got a family with eight kids and spouses, who makes the cut?” said Darryl Sturino, owner and funeral director at Sturino Funeral Home, 3014 Northwestern Ave. “That’s a really uncomfortable decision to make.”
Sura’s daughter, Kathleen Robison, said her family had no idea that they would be limited to 10 people when they went to Maresh-Meredith on Wednesday to set up services, after her father’s death early that morning.
“My brother and my sister and I just started crying,” she said. “This isn’t the sendoff that he should be getting.”
Sura worked for the Racine Fire Department for 35 years and retired as a captain in 1987. His family expected a Fire Department honor guard and as many as 400 people to attend his services.
Instead, they planned for a Saturday funeral with only Sura’s five surviving children and two of their spouses; Sura’s wife of 68 years, Jeanne; the priest and an organist.
“That’s sad,” Robison said.
Members of the police and fire community, cousins, friends and grandchildren will have to wait for a community memorial the family plans to schedule for sometime in the summer, once gathering restrictions have been lifted.
“When the 10 people are just his kids and his wife, that’s really rough because I have eight kids and 25 grandkids and none of them can come and say goodbye to my dad,” Robison said. “None of them can even come and sit with me and give me any support.”
Memorials on hold
Over the past few days, obituaries in The Journal Times have shown Sura’s family is not the only one dealing with grief and mourning in the time of the coronavirus. Families across the region are postponing services or holding only tiny family funerals.
Sturino Funeral Home is striving to give mourners options, such as live-streaming the services so that loved ones who can’t attend can watch online.
Sturino said that all the families he’s worked with since the restriction on gatherings was put in place have been understanding. But he feels for them.
“My heart goes out to them,” he said. “They can’t even mourn properly, or at least not with the support they’re looking for.”
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Racine County Circuit Court limits in-person access
RACINE COUNTY — The Racine County Circuit Court announced Thursday that they have limited in-person access at the Racine County Courthouse due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Racine County buildings will remain open to provide certain essential services, but access to buildings and in-person services will be limited.
Court filing will continue to be processed in all cases by the Wisconsin Courts' eFiling System and by mail; however, the clerks' service counters will be closed.
Paper documents will not be accepted in person. Instead, visitors may file documents using the blue drop box located at the Clerk of Circuit Court's Office on the eighth floor of the Racine County Courthouse, 730 Wisconsin Ave., until further order of the court.
Payments will be processed using Wisconsin Courts' payment system at www.wicourts.gov. Payments by check or money order will be accepted by mail or in the Clerk's Office drop box. Cash payments will not be submitted during this period.
Other court changes
Earlier this week, the Racine County Circuit Court announced other changes made the court system during the coronavirus outbreak.
- No jury duty until April 12.
- Injunction hearings, criminal preliminary hearings and mental commitment hearings should be presumed to be proceeding as originally scheduled unless parties are told otherwise.
- Civil, small claims and family cases requiring in-person appearances, including jury trials, civil court trials, small claims, contested custody and placement hearing, any hearing where evidence will be taken by other than telephonic means are suspended until April 12.
- Any civil, small claims or family case that can be done by phone will proceed as scheduled.
- Domestic violation, child abuse and harassment injunctions will be heard as scheduled in person or by phone.
- Courthouse weddings are cancelled until April 12.
- No jury trials will be held until April 12 or until further order of the court. Everything set before then is rescheduled.
- Phone or video conferencing will be used for non-evidentiary hearings.
- All proceedings involving out-of-custody defendants are canceled until after April 12. In-custody hearings will be proceed as scheduled, at the discretion of the judge.
- Individuals who post bails or are released from the jail and ordered into out-of-custody intake can be ordered in any time after April 13.
- No preliminary hearings will be held for out-of-custody defendants until after April 12. In-custody preliminary hearings will proceed scheduled.
- Court clerks will provide new hearing dates for re-scheduled hearings to both in-custody and out-of-custody defendants.
- All forfeiture cases, including traffic matters, are rescheduled until after April 12.
“When the 10 people are just his kids and his wife, that’s really rough because I have eight kids and 25 grandkids and none of them can come and say goodbye to my dad. None of them can even come and sit with me and give me any support.” Kathleen Robison,
daughter of Donald Sura
“When the 10 people are just his kids and his wife, that’s really rough because I have eight kids and 25 grandkids and none of them can come and say goodbye to my dad. None of them can even come and sit with me and give me any support.”
Kathleen Robison, daughter of Donald Sura
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