Sept. 10 (UPI) -- A 94-year-old Virginia man with a lifelong love of Juicy Fruit has received permission from the Mars Wrigley Company to have his casket painted to resemble a pack of the chewing gum.
Sammy Oakey, president of Oakey's Funeral Service, was asked by friend Suttie Economy, 94, to be buried in a casket painted to resemble a pack of Juicy Fruit.
Economy, who was hospitalized due to a heart condition three weeks ago, is currently being treated at the Virginia Veterans Care Clinic, where his condition was reported to be improving.
The nonagenarian developed a love for Wrigley's chewing gum while serving in World War II, when the company took Juicy Fruit and other varieties of gum off the market so there would be enough to distribute to U.S. service members. He brought his love of Juicy Fruit home with him, friends and family said.
"Suttie would come in here for visitation or just come in to visit and he would always bring a bunch of packs of Juicy Fruit chewing gum and put it out for the employees to enjoy," Oakey told CNN. "He didn't just do that here. He did it at restaurant and doctor's offices wherever he went."
Oakey, who has been friends with the Economy family for about 45 years, said he determined that he would need permission from the Mars Wrigley Company to use the Juicy Fruit imagery on a casket.
The company initially refused the request, leading the funeral home to post about the efforts on Facebook. The post went viral and a member of the public was able to get Oakey contact information for the company's president.
Oakey said he received a call from the vice president of Mars Wrigley a few days later giving permission to use the logo on the casket. The president reached out the next week to tell Oakey he was being sent some products for the Economy family.
The family received 250 packs of Juicy Fruit gum, Oakey said.
Economy's brother, John, said the family is now seeking an artist to paint the casket.