Dying Pennsylvania Vietnam Vet Sells Belongings to Pay for His Funeral

Willie Davis is dying from cancer.
Willie Davis served in Vietnam during the 1970s. Willie Davis/David Dunkleberger

A 66-year-old Vietnam War veteran dying of cancer found himself in the tough position of having to sell his belongings to pay for his funeral.

Willie Davis, in a series of yard sales at his Cambria County, Pennsylvania, home, set out his clothes, his DVDs and his furniture to raise funds for his final send-off. 

Enter David Dunkleberger, 27, who stopped by the sale and struck up a conversation with Davis. He learned Davis was battling Stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer, and didn't have enough funds to pay for his own burial, at the spot he wanted next to his parents in Culpeper, Virginia.  

Dunkleberger was with a friend when they visited Davis' sale. Afterward, "It kept me up all night," he told InsideEdition.com.

"To know he was trying to provide for himself. I said, 'We've got to find a way to help this guy.'''

In August, Dunkleberger established a GoFundMe page to help Davis pay for his trip to Virginia. It raised a little more than $400 until Monday, when a story about the fundraising effort appeared in local media report. After that, other media outlets did stories and the fund "blew up," Dunkleberger said.

As of Thursday, more than $33,476 had been raised. 

"The donations started pouring in," he said. Davis has now entered hospice care, is on morphine and has trouble breathing. "He's not on his death bed, but he's on the doorstep," Dunkleberger said.

Davis has no children. He has three sisters, but neither is financially able to help, Dunkleberger said. "He didn't want to them stuck" with his funeral bills, Dunkleberger said. 

The service being planned for Davis includes a viewing in Pennsylvania for his friends there, and a funeral at the graveside next to his parents. Dunkleberger said he was told Davis' VA benefits would not cover the costs of transferring his body to Virginia. 

Davis is floored by the recent windfall of donations, Dunkleberger said. "He wants to set up a foundation," Dunkleberger said. Funds left over from Davis' funeral will go toward paying for other veterans' services.

"We will keep the ball rolling," he said. 

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