Thursday, December 27, 2007

Funeral Home and Cemetary Situation

My wife Jennifer Caballero and I are in Astoria, OR visiting my Uncle Felix who recently lost his wife Eileen Caballero. So today we decided to take some flowers to the grave site where Eileen was buried. She was buried last month at the Prairie Cemetery in Knappa, Oregon, which is located between Astoria and and Clastskanie. It's a small cemetery with less than 100 plots. There really isn't even parking.

At about 12noon we drove out and to our shock and dismay the grave site was covered with about 5' of dirt from a grave site next to the one for our family member. To top things off the tombstone had about 4' of sod stacked on top.

To say we were a little upset is an understatement. There is no contact info at the cemetery or office, nothing. There is a private road next to the cemetery where people drive to get to a private residence.

So we decided to stop by the funeral home, Caldwell Funeral Homes in Astoria. Owned and operated by Renee Caldwell.

Caldwell's Luce-Layton Mortuary & North Coast Crematory
1165 Franklin Ave. • Astoria, Oregon 97103 Phone (503) 325-1811 • Fax (503) 325-2275 The Caldwell family has owned and operated the funeral home since 1976.

As a principal of the business, Renee acted very unprofessionally in my opinion, basically handing the phone to my wife to leave a message for the "manager" of the cemetery. Renee, get with the program on customer service and being proactive. We brought pictures and video of the situation. Why Renee didn't take control of the situation and have an immediate resolution is beyond me. I decided to confront Renee and speak up, asking her to take control and resolve the situation, and yes I was a little angry and emotional about it. She basically walked away and said that she would call the police if I didn't stop demanding her to take action.

Wow was my blood boiling when she walked away. What kind of coward is Renee, more importantly, what kind of business is she running? Where when a customer who is still grieving brings a situation like this to her attention and she reacts as she did? Basically walking away from the situation trying to wash her hands of the situation and passing the buck to someone else.

Later in the day my wife did speak with the wife of the gentleman who runs the cemetery where Eileen is buried. We received assurances that the situation was being resolved tonight. We are going back Saturday to pay our proper respects.

Apparently the they have no backhoe and did the plots by shovel(hand) and stack the sod on top of the tombstones, to keep them from getting muddy. That's at least the answer we received.

I don't know much about cemetery regulations and what is allowed and not allowed, but this whole approach seems wrong. You don't pile a heap of dirt on a plot that has just been closed less than two months ago. And why in the world is the only way to keep dirt or mud off a tombstone to stack sod on top?

Here's the text from the Caldwell Web Site:
The Care That Our Family Can Offer Yours, Simply Knows No Bounds"
Our Business
We pride ourselves on doing the best job for you possible. We advise and educate our customers so that they know their options and make the best and most meaningful arrangements for them, no matter how complex or how simple. We are adaptable to meet the wishes of all.
Why are we the best choice for you and your family?
I feel that is a question best answered by a trusted friend, medical professional, minister, or just the neighbor next door. After serving this community for 30 years I have the pleasure of letting my name and reputation speak for me. I accept the challenge of letting others give you the information that you are seeking about me, rather than me printing it for you to read here.
Renee' Caldwell
Who We Are
Funeral Directors
Renee' Caldwell
Brian Dutton
Devon Skelton

Our staff are all dedicated to the profession of caring for families in need of kindness, compassion, and advice at any time. These are caring people in a caring profession, available at a moments notice to offer their assistance.

Renee, please read your own site and take a refresher course on how to address these types situations. Remember the customer is always right! In this case the FAMILY is #1 anything you need to do, do it!

I hope to have closure to this in the next day.

More to follow.

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