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Judge: Hemsley’s will valid, actor can be buried
Question of the Day
EL PASO, TEXAS (AP) - Deceased actor Sherman Hemsley’s longtime friend can proceed with his burial and running his estate, a Texas judge ruled Friday over the objections of his half-brother from Philadelphia.
Hemsley, who played George Jefferson on the TV sitcom “The Jeffersons,” died July 24 of lung cancer. His body has been in refrigerated storage at an El Paso funeral home since.
Judge Patricia B. Chew sided Friday with Flora Enchinton Bernal, who was named in Hemsley’s will as the executor of his estate. Chew upheld the validity of his will and granted Enchinton “the authority to dispose, I shouldn’t say dispose, to proceed with the remains of Sherman Hemsley in a manner as she wishes.”
“He came to bury his brother,” she said. “And they turned the whole thing into a three-ring circus.”
“He was a Methodist minister and would have been bad for his career,” Thornton said of their father.
Although Thornton said the two didn’t call each other or exchange Christmas cards, Hemsley once publicly acknowledged Thornton was his brother. During a 2011 concert in New Jersey, Hemsley “introduced me to the audience and said I was his brother,” Thornton said.
Earlier in the day, Davis questioned the attorney and notary who did Hemsley’s will, suggesting that Hemsley may not have been of sound mind when he signed the document. He also asked Julian Horwitz why he took instructions from Enchinton, a longtime friend of Hemsley‘s.
“He said he wanted all of his possessions, whatever they were, to pass to Ms. (Enchinton) Bernal,” Horwitz said. “At no point did I ever suspect he lacked capacity, based on my 50 years of experience as a lawyer.”
Others who testified Friday, including the witnesses to the will being signed, said Hemsley had full use of his faculties when he signed the will.
Heinz-Ulrich Landeck, a nurse at the hospital where Hemsley was being treated, said “he was always an oriented person of the time and place and who he was.”
He said Hemsley visited the nursing station once and “talked about his career, he mentioned (Enchinton) was his manager.”
“I asked about family in Philadelphia, about wanting to go back,” Almonte said, recalling one of their conversations. “He said no. He said Flora was his family.”
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