Seeing the painful family dispute over Casey Kasem’s dying body reminded me of all the rumors and accusations that surrounded Ted Williams’ death a dozen years ago. The late baseball great’s grieving family experienced a serious rift when two of his children, John-Henry and Claudia, chose to have their patriarch’s remains cryonically frozen despite that action not being outlined in his will. Another child, Bobby-Jo Ferrell, disagreed vehemently with the decision. The family feud was quickly attended by lawyers and a media furor.
Claudia, a nurse, has just published a book to try to address what she believes are misconceptions about the controversy. She recently sat for an interview with ESPN’s Buster Olney, contending that her father had an abiding interest in cryonics, which stemmed in part from his friendship with astronaut John Glenn. Olney asks absolutely zero tough questions, which is disappointing, but here’s a transcript of Claudia Williams’ comments:
“Daddy met John Glenn when he was flying in Korea. He actually was his wingman. Daddy would protect John Glenn wherever he was flying. Dad flew in back because pilots oftentimes can’t see very well behind them, so that was Dad’s responsibility. John Glenn is quoted as saying Dad was one of the best pilots he had ever seen. They forged a friendship during the Korean War, and throughout their whole lives they stayed friends, and when it came time for John Glenn to go back up in space, you know, the two of them got together and started talking, and the stories that they shared are probably one of the reasons we became even more interested than we already were in science. A lot of people don’t realize this but they did an extensive amount of research and tests on John Glenn when he went up in space, and it was all related to aging and reversing the aging process. Now think about that–that’s huge. And Dad became very interested in that, very intrigued, and he kept telling John-Henry, ‘You get on that World Wide Web of yours because I want to know exactly what’s going on with John, I want to know what they’re doing, everything they’re researching.’ … It’s not like we woke up one day and said, ‘You know, we’re all going to get cryogenically preserved.’ No, not at all. It was a journey. It’s a transition that happened through life and life’s painful experiences that we finally got to that point, and especially since you consider, you know, we didn’t grow up with religion, and Dad was such a scientific man.”