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Family, medical school fighting for man's remains

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Years after a New Braunfels man donated his body to science, his family is fighting with the medical school for the remains still left.

The family of Rolia Whitinger wants to bury the World War II veteran in San Antonio.

But the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston said it will return his remains only if the family agrees to have them cremated. State Anatomical Board rules require the body parts' cremation.

Rolia Whitinger died in 2001 at the age of 85 and donated his body for medical research. His family was among those who requested the remains after the body was used for scientific research or teaching.

The school informed the Whitingers in June 2002 that Rolia Whitinger's ashes would be arriving soon. But the following month, the school sent a letter saying it wouldn't be sending the ashes after all. UT Medical Branch officials had discovered the ashes of 78 donors had been commingled.

Last year, the family learned from UT Medical Branch officials that they'd found Rolia Whitinger's head, shoulders, arms and knees.

His widow Annabelle Whitinger said she wonders why UT Medical Branch took so long to discover the remains and tell the family about them.

The family is adamant about preserving the body parts, in case more are found.

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