MELBOURNE, Fla. — Peter Unger traveled the world, first in the Navy at the tail end of the Korean War and then as a free spirit searching the ancient paths of India for life’s sacred meaning.
Toward the end of his life Unger, sporting a flowing white beard and well-off financially thanks to his handcrafted jewelry business, sought sanctuary in the idea of living simply.
But in a twist of fate, the 85-year-old who shunned worldly cares was found dead May 7, alone in a nondescript white Ford van that sat parked undisturbed for days at a Walmart, a retail giant seen by many as America’s temple of commerce and materialism.
Unger was among the growing number of people around the country who drew their last breaths in Walmart parking lots.
It is not that the parking lots are unsafe. In fact, it is the relative safety of the well-lit and busy lots - combined with a welcoming corporate policy - that has drawn more people like Unger to call the Walmart parking lots home, if only temporarily.
And where people live, they also die.