A veteran from WWII was recently buried in a coffin that looks like the famous pack of Juicy Fruit chewing gum. That was his wish, and strangely, those who knew Suttie Economy agree that his choice of this bizarre casket makes perfect sense.
This might sound a little weird, until you hear the whole truth.
Suttie Economy was actually well-known in his Virginia neighborhood where he often handed out Juicy Fruit gum to the people he met.
Unfortunately, health problems over the past few years led to the death of the 94-year-old. At the time, he was under observation at a Salem hospital before he was moved to the Virginia Veterans Care Center.
The veteran had served in the US Navy during the Second World War. He was serving in the Pacific, and it was while there that he got a taste for Juicy Fruit.
Wrigley's is the maker of this popular gum, and during the war, they stopped serving civilians and made their products exclusively for those fighting in the war.
Suttie Economy was instantly hooked. John Economy, his brother, helped explain how his brother got so serious about Juicy Fruit:
"It served as a symbol for his mission to talk to people about the World War II memorial and to honor the deceased veterans that died for our freedom."
Suttie's Strange Request
After the war, Suttie asked his friend Sammy Oakey, who runs a funeral home and crematory, to design a casket that looked just like a pack of Juicy Fruit. Oakey also confesses to Suttie's love for this brand of gum:
"For decades, Suttie has been known as the guy who takes packs of Juicy Fruit to restaurants, doctors' offices, funeral homes, firehouses, etcetera, and gives them out to everyone he sees."
"He has probably purchased tens of thousands of packs of the gum over the years."
Even when Suttie visited Oakey, he would still have some Juicy Fruit packs on him:
"Suttie would come in here for visitation or just come in to visit and he would always bring a bunch of packs of Juicy Fruit chewing gum and put it out for the employees to enjoy."
"He didn't just do that here. He did it at restaurants and doctor's offices wherever he went."
At first, Wrigley was not excited at the idea of having a casket featuring their trademark. However, some persuasion from the community that knew Suttie convinced them to make an exception.
In a statement, a spokesman for the company showed appreciation for the joy their products brought to Suttie's community:
"We appreciate the role our products have played in creating better moments and more smiles for this individual and the Roanoke community."
"So, when Suttie dies - which his pal hopes 'will be a long time off' yet - he'll have a casket or pall designed to reflect the gum that gave him, and others, so much joy."
As we all know, people make all kinds of strange last wishes. Suttie's wish was quite unusual, but in a sweet kind of way.