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Rejections over funeral arrangements upset Way family

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GOUVERNEUR — The family of Marine Private First Class Skyler D. Way, killed in a car accident last week in North Carolina, is distressed that its requests to have his calling hours and funeral at either the Gouverneur Fire Department or Gouverneur Central School were turned down.

“It’s upsetting. It’s a small community. We’re not trying to stir up trouble. We’re just trying to keep our son in town,” Pfc. Way’s mother, Shannon M. Way, said. “We should all pull together. We want our son home and we want our son at rest.”

Mrs. Way said the family was looking for a larger setting than French Funeral Home, in case the turnout was large, but did not want to have it in a church.

“We just want to have what Skyler would want,” Mrs. Way said. “That’s not his setting. I didn’t feel he would be happy. We’re trying to accommodate what he would want. That’s all.”

Gouverneur Fire Department officials declined comment on their decision.

The Gouverneur Central School Board on Monday reached consensus supporting an earlier decision by Superintendent Lauren F. French not to use school property for calling hours and the funeral based on policy and prior history.

Previous requests to have such ceremonies at the school have been turned down, Mrs. French said.

“We were concerned about having students here while a funeral is being held,” she said.

The school board had a moment of silence at its meeting for Pfc. Way, who graduated from the school in 2012, and members expressed their condolences to his parents. The wrestling team, of which Pfc. Way had been a member, also had a moment of silence in his memory at its match. The wrestling team’s booster club provided each member with a t-shirt honoring Pfc. Way, Mrs. French said.

The family has accepted an offer by the Elks Lodge to have calling hours and the funeral there but the timing is not ideal.

The body of Skyler Way is expected in Gouverneur today and the family had wanted to have calling hours Friday and the funeral Saturday, but the Elks Lodge is already hosting a wedding Saturday. So calling hours will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday and the funeral at noon Monday.

Mayor Ronald P. McDougall said he was trying to help the family. Police will provide an escort.

“This is a military community so we’re trying to do what we can,” he said. “I’m trying to be proactively involved in getting this done for the family.”

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