Lost Urn Returned to Family after U-Haul Self-Storage Auction

Aug 22, 2017

When U-Haul self-storage units are abandoned, their contents are put up for auction and sold. U-Haul does everything possible to avoid a self-storage auction by providing owners with ample time and opportunities to claim their belongings.

Attendees at a self-storage auction hope to come across units with hidden treasures that they can sell for a profit. One thing they don’t expect to come across is an urn with someone’s remains. But at an auction at U-Haul Moving and Storage of Fort Pierce (Fla.), that’s exactly what happened.

U-Haul CSR Tracy Elick (left) and GM Robyn Durette

U-Haul CSR Tracy Elick (left) and GM Robyn Durette

When the individual who bought the items from an auctioned self-storage unit came across an urn and other memorial items, they quickly alerted U-Haul Team Members. After many failed attempts by Team Members to locate the previous owner of the unit, customer service representative Tracy Elick moved her search to social media. She began seeking relatives or friends of James Alonzo Bunch, Jr., the name on the urn. After some intensive searching, she found someone who had the same last name and appeared to be a relative.

Elick sent a message, but got no response. That is, until about a year later.

A Family Reunited

When Wright Bunch, James’ brother, logged on to his Facebook account after not using the social media site in almost a year, he noticed a message asking if he was related to James Bunch, Jr. The message included a picture of his brother’s memorial candle and urn.

Wright couldn’t believe what he was seeing. His brother James had been killed by a drunk driver in 2006. His partner had taken possession of his remains, but the family lost contact with the partner soon after.

Almost a year after Elick reached out, Wright messaged Elick back, letting her know that he was indeed James’ brother. Elick directed Wright speak to general manager Robyn Durette. In no time, Durette was able to locate the urn and other memorial items. She shipped them to Wright within a matter of days.

Recently, Wright reached out to express his extreme gratitude in a letter to U-Haul.

“My family and I are sincerely grateful to have my brother’s remains returned to us instead of lost forever, unbeknownst to us,” Wright wrote.

“Thank you to Tracy and Robyn for their service to us. Please know it is greatly appreciated.”

For stories on what U-Haul is doing near you, be sure to check out our In the Community section.

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