CLEVELAND -- The planned wake of Cleveland boxing legend Jimmy Bivins was suddenly cancelled Monday.
Bivins, who died at the age of 92 on the Fourth of July, was scheduled to be laid out at the Lucas Funeral Home in Garfield Heights for a public viewing Monday and Tuesday. His funeral service was scheduled for Wednesday.
But at the last minute, a family member intervened and requested that the wake and funeral be put on hold, according to Clarence Lucas of the funeral home.
"These things happen from time to time," Lucas told WKYC. "All we want to do is give Mr. Bivins the dignified wake and service he deserves."
Bivins' nephew, Frank Nelson of Oakwood Village, was upset by the decision of Bivins' daughter to order a halt to the funeral plans. The daughter, Josette Banks, lives in Columbus, and Nelson, who was also Jimmy Bivins' guardian, says she had not had contact with her father for more than 10 years.
It was from Banks' house in Cleveland in 1998 that Bivins was rescued, when he was found living in the attic, nearly starved, and covered with filth and sores. Banks and her husband were charged with felonious assaut.
Charges against the daughter were later dropped when authorities determined that Banks' husband Daryl was directing Bivins' care, or lack of it. Daryl Banks was found guilty of a lesser felony charge of failing to provide for a functionally impaired person and was sentenced to 8 months in jail.
Martin J. Keenan, a lawyer brought into the case Monday afternoon, told WKYC that Tuesday's wake at the Lucas Funeral Home and Wednesday's church service at Liberty Hill Baptist Church in Cleveland will now go on as scheduled.
"I was just retained today," Keenan said, "and I don't know why she (Josette Banks) held up Monday's wake. Postponing the wake and funeral were not the goal."
Keenan said Bivins had a will and that Banks was next-of-kin, and that wake and funeral plans as scheduled were not what the family would have wanted. He told WKYC that Banks intends to have her father buried in Columbus.
"She hasn't had contact with him for over 10 years," said Frank Nelson, upset with the decision to call off his uncle's Monday wake, and suspicous of any funeral plans other than the ones he had made.
Nelson was about to deliver a collage of photos of Jimmy Bivins' life and career to the funeral home when he heard of the sudden decision to cancel the arrangements.
"I'm pretty upset," he went on. "The phone's been ringing off the hook all day with people finding out that everything's been put on hold. We're just hoping we can come to some kind of solution on this and get on with the business of giving my uncle a good going home."
Bivins' wake is now scheduled for 10 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. at the Lucas Funeral Home on Garfield Boulevard. Friends will also be received at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Liberty Hill Baptist Church at East 82nd and Euclid Avenue. Church services will immediately follow.