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North Bend Eagle



Thefts mar memorials

by Mary Le Arneal
published 6/10/09

It happens every year, Ralph Diffey said.

As a member of Woodland Cemetery Board, Diffey hears of items being stolen from grave sites every year.

This year it hit home to Cecelia Powers, Betty Watt and Evelyn Kinney.
Powers had two big planters stolen from her husband’s and his parents’ grave sites at the west end of Woodland Cemetery.

“It’s sad people have to stoop so low to take flowers off a grave,” Powers said. “They are placed there to honor loved ones.”

Watt and her sister, Mary Ann Emanuel, took flowers to Woodland Cemetery the Friday before Memorial Day. They were placed on Watt and Chapman grave sites, toward the center of the cemetery.

On Sunday morning four planters were missing. Three were hanging baskets they had purchased, one was a homemade planting of mixed flowers and one was a homemade planting of pansies. A week later another planting, matching the mixed flower planting, was missing. In all they lost six plants.

“I feel like I’ve been violated,” Watt said. “You are showing your love and respect for a person with flowers. It makes me angry. I don’t understand how people can steal from cemeteries.”

Watt said she could understand if a person had a gripe with her that they would steal from her personal yard, “but not from my loved ones.” She feels fortunate to have taken pictures of the flowers by the grave sites to send to out-of-town relatives before they were lost.

Watt said she knows of people in other areas of the cemetery who also had flowers stolen. She wonders about those who came from out-of-town to place flowers and had them stolen.

Watt said she looked along the road to the cemetery to see if flowers were discarded along the road side but did not see any.

Evelyn Kinney did not lose any flowers but had a heart-shaped flower hook stolen from her granddaughter Amanda Florance’s grave site. It had been beside Amanda’s grave since she died 16 months ago. At first she thought another relative had taken it, but she found out they had not removed it.

“It’s sad,” Kinney said. “You put things out special for a loved one and they take it off the grave.”

Thefts were reported from all areas of the cemetery and at different times (though no official complaints were made).

Watt does not feel North Benders were responsible for the loss, but hopes people will keep an eye out for others removing flowers from a grave the observer knows is not theirs.

“But it isn’t getting us down,” Watt said. “We’re going to put out flowers again next year.

Diffey said that some items left after the June 4 removal date can be found behind the shed at the back of the cemetery.

“It’s always a problem,” Diffey said.

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