SARASOTA, Fla. (CBSMiami/AP) — It turns out an Army veteran who had thousands of strangers show up to his funeral so he wouldn’t be buried alone actually had family all along.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune wrote Saturday that Edward Pearson had two sons. One told the paper their father walked out on them when they were teens.

The family did not know of Pearson’s passing until the day before the Oct. 1 service, and by that time, the funeral home had invited the public to attend, saying he had no immediate family.

Liz Pearson, Edward Pearson Jr.’s ex-wife, says the family found out too late to make arrangements to travel to Sarasota. She says they would have attended if they had known about it sooner.

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