NEW HOPE, Ala. (WHNT) — Rickey Dudley is on a mission to reunite Walter McLellen with his family.
The problem is, Walter passed away in 1993!
In June of 2022, Rickey and his son were on their way to work when they noticed a pile of trash left on the side of the road. When they stopped to see if there was anything of value, they found the unexpected – an urn full of ashes!
“Wow! How could somebody toss me out?” Dudley thought to himself. He has searched near and far for relatives of Walter McLellen.
“Traced his wife to Hazel Green in a trailer.”
But every time he gets close …
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“She passed away and as far as I know, she was cremated in California,” Dudley explained.
Even the funeral home where McLellen was cremated came up short.
“All their files are from 2000. So, all the paperwork that’s from 2000 back, I guess, was destroyed or whatever they got rid of,” Dudley said.
So, Rickey turned to social media for help, making YouTube videos hoping someone would recognize McLellen’s name and come forward.
“I tried to get family members to, you know, find him. Because being here in New Hope, I’ve lived here since ‘81, so I figured there was at least somebody in my social media that might know the man,” Dudley said.
For the last 10 months, Dudley hasn’t given up hope that Walter will be reunited with his family.
“He’s somebody’s uncle, he’s somebody’s grandfather, he’s somebody’s dad.”
And Dudley hopes the public won’t forget about him.
“It might be them. It might be them one day. You never know,” Dudley concluded.
Dudley told News 19, if he can’t locate any of Walter McLellen’s family members, he has a special place for him – in his garden in his backyard.
If you or someone you know has any information about relatives of Walter LeRoy McLellen, you can reach Rickey Dudley at (256) 541-4658.