Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Outdoorsman makes final journey to the afterlife by boat instead of a traditional hearse.

The definition of a hearse is a vehicle, such as a specially designed car or carriage, used to carry a coffin to a place of worship and ultimately to a cemetery or crematorium. Can a boat carrier be considered a hearse? Yes, it can and it carried Ronald Bloss Sr. to his final resting place.

Ronald Bloss was an avid fisherman.

Every year when the weather warmed enough, Ronald Bloss Sr. would tow his fishing boat to the river. The Pennsylvania man would spend all day on the water. Bloss would bring his pontoon boat out, and ride around on that, said Bloss' only daughter, Tina Rohrbaugh. He'd fish, listen to the radio and spend time with his friends on Shelly Island, across from Three Mile Island, where he had a cabin.

The Pennsylvania man, died of cancer Saturday at age 78, but he was able to take one last boat ride.

His family brought his boat to the Diehl Funeral Home in Mount Wolf and they placed Bloss' casket aboard his Johnboat for one final trip to the cemetery. This time Ronald Bloss Sr. was towed to the river.

You could almost see the sign that said "Gone Fishing"; Ronald’s final wish was granted.

Bloss also liked to hunt.

When Bloss couldn’t fish, you would find him hunting. He spent the fall in his cabin in the mountains. He was a true outdoorsman who had a hobby for every season.

But Bloss started to feel ill in December when he was bear hunting in the mountains, his son-in-law Dennis Rohrbaugh remembered.

When Bloss got home to Mount Wolf, he sought medical immediate attention. As a diabetic, he thought his sugar might be a little high. It turned out his sugar was very high. But, after the doctors did all the tests, they found something else, something much worse. Ronald had cancer. Doctors found a tumor growing on Bloss' pancreas. It had spread to his liver.

The doctors told Bloss the cancer was inoperable. He would only live about two more months.

His daughter recalls her Dad’s last wishes.

After Bloss passed, his daughter remembered something her dad told her about an unusual funeral he heard about a few years back. While he was eating in the Manchester Diner one day, a lady told Bloss about her husband's funeral, where he was carried to the funeral ceremony by boat.

Bloss thought that was a perfect ending to an outdoorsman’s life. He told his daughter that he wanted to take his last journey in his prized boat.

So on Wednesday, Diehl Funeral Home in Mount Wolf took Bloss on his final boat ride.

It was a fitting tribute from his family, to a man who loved to be on the water.

"That's what dad really wanted," Rohrbaugh said. "It was like him going fishing, going for that last ride."

The funeral home had their first “boat service”.

Ronald Bloss Sr.'s family thought it would be appropriate given Bloss' love of the water and his service in the U.S. Navy. The two things he was most proud of.

Michael Gladfelter, owner of Diehl Funeral Home and Cremation Center Inc., said this tribute marked a first for his funeral home, too. He's done other unique services, but never used a boat carrier as a hearse. His goal is to always help families honor their loved ones and their last requests. He was honored to serve this family in their water based memorial. For Bloss, who loved fishing and being on the water, "I thought this was perfect," Gladfelter said.

Nancy Burban 2014

Funeral fund

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