Joyce Yoder and her family have made an
unusual decision. They have chosen to memorialize her
husband by putting his remains in an artificial reef
ball made of concrete. They are visiting one last time
before it is placed at the bottom of the ocean, but
they're not grieving.
"We look at this as an opportunity to
celebrate, not to mourn, because his life and his memory
is going to live on through the reef," Yoder said.
The Reef Ball Development Group of
Decatur, Ga. began making artificial reefs in the early
'90s. But in 1998 they started the Eternal
Reefs program as a memorial option.
"My father-in-law came over for dinner
and said 'Don, I got a favor to ask of you. When I pass
away I'm going to be cremated and I want you to take my
remains and put them in one of those artificial reefs
you build. I'd rather spend eternity down there with all
that life and excitement going on than in a field with a
bunch of old, dead people,'" Don Brawley, Eternal Reefs
then the program has placed roughly 250 memorials for
people like William Yoder, who loved life and the ocean.
||Beyond the sea
While it might seem strange
to some, a few people have chosen to have their
remains stored in a coral reef.
"He was a person who believed in living
life to the fullest one day at a time," Joyce Yoder
said. "He always said that you know, you come from the
earth and the water and that's where he wanted to go
back. So being buried at sea was very important to him
"Unlike going to normal cemeteries and
all, it's kind of dreary and you know, it's not real
comfortable for a lot of people. But you know, going to
a reef or going fishing on a site, or actually diving on
it and seeing all the life and the fish and the growth
is much more enlightening and uplifting for everybody,"
Larry Beggs of Reef Innovations said.
The Eternal Reefs program cooperates with
the family throughout the process. They let them
participate in making the concrete reef ball in the
beginning and perform a site dedication on a boat at the
"It's been very rewarding and very
fulfilling helping these people come to closure with
their, the loss of a loved one, and at the same time
doing something good for the world and the environment,"
"Letting go is always so hard, and this
was a really good way to let go," Yoder