Century-Old Cremains Abandoned in Self Storage Unit

Posted on Dec 26 2013 - 7:38pm by Tony Gonzalez

Having a customer default on payments for a rental unit isn’t unusual in the self storage business. Typically, items left behind in those units consist of things such as furniture, household appliances, and clothing. Occasionally something unusual or intriguing turns up. Such is the case at Derrel’s Mini Storage in Modesto, California.

Recently, three urns had been left behind in units that had been abandoned by the renters. The facility owners thought that the family members would probably want the urns back. So, they gave the urns to the coroner’s office.

Deputy Coroner Tom Killian started an investigation to figure out who the urns belonged to. He found that one urn contained the ashes of an animal from a pet cemetery. One urn held the ashes of a man who died in 1993. The third urn, held the ashes of a woman who had died over 100 years ago.

Killian discovered that those ashes were of Rose Lyons. She was born in 1836 and died of a stroke a week after the massive earthquake in San Francisco in 1906. Killian learned from a genealogy website that Lyons’s granddaughter was listed in the cremation records as the recipient of the ashes in July 1906. But couldn’t find further information about the granddaughter or her posterity.

Killian was finally able to find a distant relative living in Illinois. This relative is willing to take possession of Lyons’ ashes and possibly even give her a proper burial. But first, she would like to find a closer family member and possibly even figure out who the person was who left the urn behind in the storage unit.

Derrel J. Ridenour was the original founder and owner of Derrel’s Mini Storage. Initially, he owned a stair and ornamental iron business. In the early 1960s, he had to relocate his business because a freeway was going to be constructed through his property.

Because it took several years for the freeway to be completed, his property was left vacant. Ridenour decided to fence the property and rent the space as storage of recreational vehicles.

In 1982, he closed his ornamental iron business and shifted all of his focus to building storage facilities. He started Derrel’s Mini Storage and built his business to 53 locations in California between Bakersfield to Sacramento.

About two years ago, Ridenour sold his business. The new owners have kept the same philosophy of having high quality facilities run by friendly, professional people and of ‘being a good neighbor.’

Sources Used:

“Century-old cremains create Modesto mystery.” Merced Sun-Star; 24 December 2013.

Darrel’s Mini Storage, Inc.