ARLINGTON, Va. – Ray Vivier had been an adventurer, a Marine veteran who explored the country from South Carolina to Alaska, the father of five children.
The 61-year-old also was a man starting to get his life back together after living for years in a shanty beneath a Cleveland bridge. He had struggled with alcoholism, but by November he had a welding job, friends and a place to stay at a boarding house.
He rescued five people from that house when arsonists set it ablaze — but Vivier couldn't save himself. He and three others died, and two people have been charged in their deaths. Vivier's body, unclaimed and unidentified for weeks, seemed destined for an anonymous, modest burial.
However, Jody Fesco — who met Vivier while she was volunteering at a soup kitchen and had even invited him to her wedding — heard that Vivier may have died. Fesco and her husband contacted their friend Haraz Ghanbari, an Associated Press photographer, about the situation. Ghanbari took the lead to make sure Vivier wasn't forgotten, tracking down the family members and arranging a proper funeral.
On Friday, Vivier's ashes were inurned at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.