Ken White, the valley’s first naturalist, needed his friends to quickly figure out how to bury him when he died in 1992. He didn’t want a mortician and he didn’t want cremation. Some more detailed instructions from Ken would have helped. By discussion with interested folks and our families we can avoid problems in order to lay our loved ones to rest in a peaceful and natural way.
Ken had purchased a plot in Sullivan Cemetery in Winthrop, but the cemetery requires a very heavy cement vault that only the mortician’s boom truck can handle. Many of Ken’s friends had to find small cement sectional pieces to assemble the required vault, build the pine coffin, buy ice and pack it around Ken lying in his bed, while others did the clerical work and phoning to keep everything legal.
We took care of Ken in the same way as the Methow pioneers, similar to ways used throughout human history. We all had jobs to do. We felt empowered. No one moped around mournfully – we realized we need to carry on the neighborly spirit and appreciation of the natural world that he demonstrated. Ken would have liked an even more natural burial in a cemetery located in the woods or in a meadow. So would Marilyn and I and the others we’ve spoken with so far. So let’s make it happen!