The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

The Wisdom of Barnyard Bruke: Johnny Albrecht - Elvis Presley

Greetings ta ever one in western Illinois and all readers of "The Quill".

January 8 is the anniversary of Elvis Presley's birthday. I believe he would have been 84 years old. He has a radio station dedicated to his music seven days a week, twenty four hours a day. It is on Sirius.

Fer I bet ya didn't know, here is a story relate'n ta Mr. Presley that comes from back in March 1978 by Rick Baker:

Pontiac-The word was that the late John Albrecht and the late Elvis Presley had a lot in common. That is rather hard to imagine.

Here comes Elvis Presley wiggling on a fancy stage covered in rhinestones and singing real loud while a couple hundred women scream as if they're being knifed. Here comes John Albrecht driving a tractor over the lower 40, wearing a seed corn cap, bib overalls and the only things screaming are the diesel pistons.

If you didn't know Elvis Presley, he was a rock and roll star. If you didn't know John Albrecht, he was a Livingston County farmer.

But the word was -and that word was from some pretty knowledgeable people-that Elvis Presley and John Albrecht were going to spend eternity in much the same manner.

The word was that Elvis Presley and John Albrecht were the only two people in the country to have the same kinds of elaborate coffins, though chances are fair John Albrecht never heard of Elvis Presley and chances are better Elvis Presley never heard of John Albrecht.

A check with the National Casket Co's regional office in Dixon reveals Elvis Presley had a real expensive coffin, a spokesman for the firm said. The firm spokesman said Elvis Presley's coffin cost about $8,000.

The casket company also revealed the price of John Albrecht's coffin. It's safe to say Elvis Presley and John Albrecht are not buried in the same kind of coffin and "the word" is wrong.

John Albrecht is buried in a coffin that cost $34,200. John Albrecht is buried in a coffin that cost more than most people pay for a house.

And while a good many of us would probably be happy to be interred in a lawn leaf bag if it weren't for the embarrassment it would cause relatives. John Albrecht rests in peace in velvet and bronze.

John Albrecht, a conservative -even frugal-farmer probably didn't know he was going to wind up in a a $34,200 coffin after he died at age 92 in the Flanagan Good Samaritan Nursing Home late last year.

Court Hearing

His being in such a coffin resulted in a recent court hearing in the courtroom of Judge Charles Glennon. "All parties agreed that because of the cost of the coffin, there should be a hearing," the judge said Thursday

So several months after John Albrecht was buried in a $34,200 coffin, there was a court hearing to determine why John Albrecht had been buried in a $34,200 coffin. While it didn't come close to happening, the hearing could have resulted in the judge ordering John Albrecht's body be put in a less expensive coffin. The market for used coffins isn't too hot. Especially when they're $34,200 used coffins.

William E. Froelich of Flanagan's Froelich Memorial Home bought the $34,200 coffin for John Albrecht as a part of burial ceremonies which totalled $37,610.70 (coffin included).

Froelich appeared at the hearing as did the executors of the estate -people appointed to see bills against the state are legitimate. And it was deemed the expense of the coffin was indeed legitimate.

Asked for best

The funeral home operator bought the $34,200 coffin as a result of a form John Albrecht filled out in the 1950s-a form in which Albrecht vaguely described how he would like to be buried.

The form asked what clothes he preferred to be buried in, and, naturally enough Albrecht wrote he would like to be buried in the best suit he had.

The form asked what kind of coffin he preferred to be buried in. And Albrecht said he would like to be buried in the best coffin he could afford at the time of his death.

When Albrecht died, he could have afforded to have used the Livingston County courthouse for a casket. He had quite a lot of land when he filled out his burial/ form, and he accumulated a lot more afterwards. The value of that land skyrocketed after Albrecht filled out his form.

And when he died, his estate was valued at more than $8 million. (land was selling for $500-$700 back then)(and today his estate would be over 40,000,000.

Subsequently Albrecht got the best casket he could afford at the time of his death, which was the best casket made at $34,200.

At the hearing on the casket Froelich described in detail why the particular casket was chosen. And the court ruled Froelich was fulfilling the request John Albrecht made on the burial form

Most people don't fill out forms on how they want to be buried. How people are buried is usually left up to relatives. But Albrecht filled out the form because he had no closer relatives than nieces and nephews and he wanted to insure himself of a decent burial.

And he had no way of foreseeing how the price of land was going to increase after he filled out his burial form.

Other than burial cost and some money left to his tenant farmers, all of John Albrecht's land was willed to charity.

Of the casket, Glennon said, "While it was expensive, the amount of money involved compared to the size of his estate is very small. Most people probably spend a bigger percentage of their estate on being buried than Mr. Albrecht did."

Why do you suppose this expense went before a court?

Married and divorced as a young man, Albrecht never remarried, had no children and spent most of his life in a Flanagan farmhouse before entering the nursing home in Flanagan.

The great bulk of Albrecht's estate's value is the farmland in Livingston and Woodford counties. Albrecht, an only child, inherited a few acres from his parents and used it to amass a fortune in land.

His will calls for the land to be held in trust for 21 years and all proceeds from the farms he owns be invested. At the end of 21 years, the will calls for his estate to be dissolved, the land sold and all money made from the investments and the land be aimed at one of the causes he prescribed.

The will, drafted by him and his attorney, Kenneth Johnson. Pontiac in September 1961 originally limited the trustees options on giving the money. In 1961, he stipulated it only be used to build or aid hospitals.

But as he aged, Albrecht thought there was salient need for additional facilities for the elderly in the area where he grew up and in 1974 at the age of 89, he had his will amended to say his estate could be used to construct a home for the elderly in Livingston or Woodford County.

Albrecht accumulated most of his land while acting as a corporation. It was aptly named "John W. Albrecht Farms Inc" because Albrecht owned all the stock in it. The corporation was dissolved in accordance with Albrecht's will, soon after he died on Nov. 22 and all real estate was transferred to the Flanagan National Bank as trustee.

In his will, Albrecht said the cash resulting from his estate after 21 years could be used only in build, buy, repair, remodel, maintain or operate a hospital or nursing home near Flanagan or Minonk or it should be given to Mennonite Hospital.

If a hospital were to be built, he stipulates his contribution be acknowledged by calling it the John W. Albrecht Memorial Hospital. His first choice for location of the hospital would be near Flanagan. He said if that were unwise or impractical, it be located near Minonk in Woodford County. His third choice was somewhere between Flanagan and Minonk.

The Flanagan State Bank, as trustee is to have decided what it will do with the millions of dollars within 15 years.

The beneficiaries of the will didn't want any of their money wasted on a coffin, but they had no choice in the matter as it was decided.

As it turned out, a beautiful new hospital was built a the west edge of Pontiac, Illinois in Livingston County.

Albrecht had a few cousins, but he left them nothing. The only beneficiary in his will was the Mennonite Home of Meadows. He willed them his home and household goods. Some money was left his tenant farmers.

Albrecht had a deep sense of gratitude to serve the community in which he spent his life.

So Elvis lovers, there ya have it then. That casket cost rose from $8,000 to $40,000 betwixt Elvis death and Johnny Albrechts death. Ya don't suppose there was a little extra markup envolved due to the size of Johnny's estate?

Hope'n to see ya in the church of yer choice this week.

Remember, wherever ya are, whatever ya be a do'n "Be A Good One!"

Keep on Smile'n

Catch ya later

Barnyard Bruke