June 12, 2000
A crane had to hoist a two-ton rock over the Tolt Church offices in order to place it in the church's memorial garden.
"It all started with a need to weed," said Pastor Jeff Spencer. "Jane (Loudenback) wondered if she could clean up the courtyards in our building and we got to chatting. I shared an idea I had for several years--putting a memorial marker in one of the gardens."
Spencer explained that when a family scatters the ashes of a loved one who has died, there is no gravestone, "no place where that person's name remains to help us remember."
Loudenback latched on to the idea and volunteered to purchase a stone. The bodies of her parents, Grace and Harry Popkema, were cremated and the ashes were scattered in the woods behind the family home.
"Dad loved to walk back there after he sold the dairy farm," she said. "Now there will be a place with their names." The Popkemas were active members of Tolt Church.
Thanks to the efforts of church members Doug Cole, Bob Hazelbrook, Bob Patterson, and several others, the stone is now installed, ready for the first two bronze plaques to be installed. They will bear the names of Harry and Grace Popkema.
"We still don't have the policy all figured out," said Spencer. "It is for people who are part of the church family; that much we know. But we haven't figured out costs, sizes of plaques, how to make it available to families with limited incomes--you know, the details."
Spencer hopes the details will be figured out by the fall. "Churches sometimes take a while to make decisions," he explained.
There are no plans to bury or scatter ashes in the garden. The stone was dedicated on May 28.
"Memorial Day weekend seemed the logical weekend to consecrate the marker," Spencer said.