After losing his husband and partner of more than 50 years, a grieving man is suing a Mississippi funeral home for allegedly refusing to cremate his husband after realizing the men were a couple.
John “Jack” Zawadski and Robert “Bob” Huskey fell in love soon after they met in 1965. They lived together in California, Colorado and Wisconsin before they retired and settled in Picayune, Mississippi, in 1997.
Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of nationwide marriage equality, Zawadski and Huskey married in Mississippi in July 2015.
By then, Huskey’s health was failing. Soon after the wedding, he entered a nursing home, where he would live out his final days.
In late April 2016, the couple’s nephew John Gaspari made arrangements with the Picayune Funeral Home to provide transportation, cremation and related services after Huskey’s death.
The funeral home owns and operates the only onsite crematorium in Pearl River County.
After Huskey, 86, died on May 11 of that year, the nursing home provided the Picayune Funeral Home with the necessary paperwork confirming his death and identifying Zawadski as his husband.
The nursing home contacted Gaspari and informed him that the funeral home “adamantly refused” to pick up Huskey’s body for cremation, according to court documents obtained by ABC News.
The nursing home told Gaspari that after the funeral home received the paperwork indicating that Huskey’s surviving spouse was a man, it allegedly refused to provide services because it did not “deal with their kind,” according to court documents.
The cremation home denies the charge.
“I felt as if all the air had been knocked out of me,” Zawadski, 82, said in a statement Tuesday. “Bob was my life, and we had always felt so welcome in this community.
“And then, at a moment of such personal pain and loss, to have someone do what they did to me, to us, to Bob, I just couldn’t believe it. No one should be put through what we were put through.”