Ted Williams' Kin to Ask for Mediation

Thursday, July 18th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

INVERNESS, Fla. (AP) _ Ted Williams' final wish was to have his body frozen, and the two youngest children of the baseball great say they have the authority to make sure it's granted.

John Henry Williams and Claudia Williams stated their beliefs in a court filing on Wednesday. It was in response to their father's will, which said that he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes spread at sea. But the executor of the 1996 will said Williams changed his mind on what should be done with his remains.

Williams died on July 5. He was 83.

The two Williams children also said the Florida court where the will was filed does not have jurisdiction over their father's body because it is no longer there. The body has been moved to the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona so it can be cryogenically frozen.

A judge could decide whether Williams wanted to be frozen or cremated because of the conflicting accounts of his intentions.

But the two children also asked the judge on Wednesday for a second chance to work out an agreement privately with their half sister, Bobby-Jo Williams Ferrell, who wants the body cremated.

They asked a judge to order a mandatory mediation session with Ferrell in order to avoid a public showdown in court.

``John Henry and Claudia feel strongly that the disposition of their father's body is a private matter,'' their attorney, Robert Goldman, said in the motion.

The children of the former Boston Red Sox slugger already have tried mediation, negotiating for hours Monday, but they were unable to reach a compromise.

``We believe a second meeting could very easily result in a common understanding of Mr. Williams' wishes and moot the need for a judicial resolution,'' the motion said.

Ferrell's attorney, Richard Fitzpatrick, said an agreement is possible.

``There's middle ground everywhere,'' Fitzpatrick said. ``Now this is a very difficult case to find that _ I agree with that _ but I'm not about to say there's no possibility that there couldn't be any middle ground.''

Ferrell has accused her half brother of trying to profit off their father's remains or sell his DNA, which he denies.

``One point should be made clear,'' Goldman said at a news conference. ``Claudia and John Henry Williams will never profit off their father's body or the disposition of their father's remains.''

Cryonics advocates say science might one day be able to thaw a body, cure whatever killed the person and restore life. Most experts say that's highly unlikely.