NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A 10 On Your Side investigation led to a fitting funeral for a Navy mom with roots in Norfolk.
The son of Eleanor Di Peppe contacted 10 On Your Side after he faced an uphill battle trying to lay her to rest.
The family didn’t want — and Eleanor wasn’t entitled to — a full military service with a 21-gun salute, a bugler, a flag presentation and a full casket team. But the family did insist that there at least be a chaplain and a smaller, two-member military detail attending to her ashes.
Her son Archer Di Peppe says that was only fitting, given how she was such an advocate for military families over the years. “After dad passed away 26 years ago, she dedicated countless hours to the Norfolk Naval Relief Society, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum and the Sewell’s Point Naval Dispensary.”
They had planned for years to have Eleanor’s ashes placed next to her dance partner, her soulmate, her Navy Chief. Joseph Di Peppe served in World War II and Korea, and his ashes were placed at Arlington after he died in 1993.
The Di Peppe family lived in Norfolk’s Ocean View section, and Archer Di Peppe attended Ocean View Elementary. “Military wives are the unsung heroes, the glue that keeps everything together. (They are) often unrecognized, often unappreciated.”
Eleanor died in January. At first, Arlington told the family she could have the limited military honors, but they would have to wait until late this year. Then ANC offered to move up her interment, but with a stripped down funeral without a chaplain or Navy detail.
We contacted Arlington in April. They explained how busy they are –conducting from 20 to 30 funerals every day.
But then Arlington came through for Eleanor’s family.
“WAVY’s participation shined a light on the problems that we were having, and I don’t think they would have responded the way they did if you weren’t watching, and I appreciate that, because that’s what you do,” Di Peppe said.
A Navy chaplain joined about 30 family members gathered last week at the columbarium, standing next to the location where Joseph was interred 26 years ago. “She truly lived a life worthy of being lived, one that might have even compelled God to whisper ‘well done, good and faithful servant.’”
“Together again,” Di Peppe said. “She never got over my dad passing. She’s exactly where she wanted to be.”
See Chris Horne’s special report tonight at 6, with coverage beginning at 4.