CORVALLIS – Tim Hollar lost his wife Kim in March after a heart-wrenching bout with cancer.
Two Friday mornings ago, Hollar lavished her grave at the Corvallis Cemetery with $350 worth of flowers and plants in preparation for her memorial service.
When he returned that afternoon for the service, they were gone.
So, he noticed, were flowers at a nearby gravesite that were probably left over from Memorial Day four days earlier.
“And a friend of mine had some flowers on her husband’s grave the same day, and they were gone too,” Hollar said. “The more I thought about it, the madder it made me.”
He’s learned since, after talking with the cemetery sexton and president of the cemetery board, that the thefts are not isolated incidents at the pretty little cemetery a mile and a half southwest of Corvallis.
“I had no idea what was going on up there until after the fact,” Hollar said.
Like most, the Corvallis Cemetery disposes of flower bouquets after Memorial Day weekend that are in the way of groundskeepers. But not the kind of potted plants and hanging baskets of flowers that Hollar purchased at a local greenhouse, and certainly not before the service they are meant to enrich has taken place.
Hollar thinks the culprits live nearby where they can keep watch on the cemetery.
He called the Missoulian hoping that by getting word out those responsible might be identified. He also thinks that others who have loved ones buried in the cemetery should have a heads-up.
“If I had had any inclination, I wouldn’t have put (the flowers) out as soon as I did, or if I had there would have been someone staying with them,” Hollar said.
He’s not upset with the cemetery. Both sexton Steve Boshae and cemetery board president Don Thorson are on his side. “In fact, they told me if I found out who it was, they’d back me up 100 percent to prosecute.”
One solution to the vandalism would be to mount security cameras on a shed in the cemetery. Two could cover the whole place, Hollar figures.
Trouble is, that’s two cameras more than the cemetery board can afford. So the other reason to publicize his plight, Hollar said, is to “put the bite on some of the other people that this has happened to. Maybe we can get donations to get that done.”
Kim Hollar passed away on March 2. Her cremains were interred in early May, but the memorial service was postponed until May 31 to give her family from out of state time to make plans to attend.
They did, and many brought flowers, Hollar said.
“So it wasn’t bare. In fact, it was real pretty. But it would have been a lot prettier if mine were there too,” he said.
They were in “big gigantic baskets” with flowers “flowing over the side,” he said.
It would have taken a pickup or maybe a minivan to fit them all inside. There was a short window of time to steal them – he put the flowers out at 10 a.m. and was back between 1:30 and 1:45 p.m. for the 2 p.m. service.
“I think it’s somebody around there, and I would suspect that within an hour after I left they were probably gone,” he said.
“This is kind of taking its toll on me,” Hollar added. “Really, it takes a special kind of low-life to take flowers off somebody’s grave.”