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New York family gets creative with funeral visitation during coronavirus outbreak

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It was a unique funeral visitation – and one that David R. Scott hopes will inspire other grieving families across America during this difficult and uncertain time.

Scott, his father David Lynn Scott and eight siblings stood under a tent earlier this week and greeted vehicles one by one as they pulled up to the Foster Funeral Home in Hannibal, New York to pay respects to his mother Linda, who passed away on March 23 following a two-year battle with ovarian cancer.

The family had been planning a benefit event in support of her last month, but the coronavirus outbreak scuttled those plans -- and forced them to change the arrangement of her calling hours as well.

“Probably others have thought of it, but for those who haven’t and are grieving during this difficult time, we are really encouraged and hopeful that it gives others the opportunity to celebrate their loved ones in a way maybe they hadn’t thought of,” Scott told Fox News on Saturday.

Linda Scott and her husband, David Lynn Scott, during the wedding of one of their daughters. The couple was married for 41 years, David R. Scott tells Fox News. (Photo provided)

Linda Scott and her husband, David Lynn Scott, during the wedding of one of their daughters. The couple was married for 41 years, David R. Scott tells Fox News. (Photo provided)

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He says when his family first approached the funeral home to hold his mother’s visitation, they were told they could only have a private service in shifts, because doing it any other way would run against recommendations prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people during the pandemic.

“We were just like ‘how do we do this’? And we’re not sure who it was that first said ‘hey what about this’? But we talked about it and Dad proposed it to the funeral home... and they had to call their headquarters in Georgia and talk to them,” Scott said.

The idea got approved – and the funeral home placed his mother’s casket outside, surrounded by pictures of her on easels, on the day of the visitation. Vehicles then started cycling by, some with signs in their windows, while others had passengers that leaned out to offer words of remembrance.

The coronavirus outbreak prompted the Scott family to arrange a unique setup for Linda Scott's funeral visitation this week (Photo provided)

The coronavirus outbreak prompted the Scott family to arrange a unique setup for Linda Scott's funeral visitation this week (Photo provided)

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“The calling hours were scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m., and people started lining up at 3 o’clock,” Scott told Fox News. “At first it was just one car, and we were like ‘ok that’s weird, maybe they got the time wrong’, then there were a few cars and then... it was very well attended.”

The family is hoping for a “more traditional” service for Linda Scott’s burial at a later date, one that David says will include a horse-drawn hearse to symbolize her love for nature and the animals.

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As for the unique funeral visitation, Scott believes his family made the right choice.

“Mom loved fun,” he said. “Every opportunity we had, whether it was boats or campers, whatever – we are not a wealthy family but we are fortunate to be able to do things, and she loved spontaneous fun. And I think in light of everything that was going on – and considering the alternative... I think mom is looking down and is pleased and is proud of us for coming up with it, for making it happen and appreciative of the outpouring of support.”