Generous KOMO viewers step up to help Arlington widow

ARLINGTON, Wash. -- The community has rallied around an elderly Arlington woman who had nowhere to turn and no money to bury her husband, who died last Tuesday.

It was on Friday that KOMO News first told the story of {A href=""}91-year-old Elsie Smith, who was planning an estate sale to raise money for her husband's burial. She didn't want to sell all her belongings, but she had promised her husband, Joe, that she would give him a proper burial.

The response to the story was immediate and overwhelming.

"It's completely unbelievable. We get donations from our viewers all the time, but I have never seen anything like this in the entire time I've been here," said KOMO 4 News Director Holly Gauntt.

Donations and well wishes were pouring in even as Elsie was having her estate sale, even as people who had seen her story were looking at her things, wanting to help in some way.

"I know that she must have loved her husband very much, and misses him and wants to make his dream come true," said Pam Hoover, who shopped at the estate sale.

Elsie's story was picked up and shared on websites all over the world, and KOMO got calls from all over the country. People offered cemetery plots, a minister offered to preside over Joe's funeral, and there were donations big and small.

The little lady that made a promise to her husband touched a nerve with everyone who heard her story.

Rick Stanton of Stanton & Everybody Advertising donated $3,000.

"My wife and I are doing well, and there just comes a time in life when you have to do something for someone else. It was just that compelling," he said.

On Monday, KOMO was able to present Elsie with a check for $12,000.

"I don't know what to say. I'm just dumbfounded," Elsie said.

In the end, Elsie didn't have to sell anything she didn't want to sell, and Joe's funeral will be taken care of.

"I'm just overjoyed," she said.

Elsie and a friend visited with an attorney on Monday to figure out how best to handle the money and the upcoming funeral. She recently moved full-time into the Regency Care Center in Arlington, and thanks to the generosity of KOMO viewers, she will now be taken care of.