Buried at seaConcrete-encased ashes become part of
Joe Hermosa / Valley Morning
StarMarcia Pollard tosses a
symbolic reef into the Gulf of Mexico in memory of her
husband, William Pollard, who was buried in a reef, as
Keith Sorosiak stands by her
SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — It’s unlikely that the five people
buried at sea Monday had ever met each other or had much in
common, other than where they lived.
appreciation of the Gulf of Mexico brought their loved ones
together to leave an ecological legacy, as their
concrete-encased ashes became part of an artificial reef on
the ocean floor.
Atlanta-based Eternal Reefs twice has
placed cremains in 65 feet of water about seven miles from
South Padre Island.
"We’re trying to mimic the way nature does it," said
Eternal Reefs Founder Don Brawley.
Brawley was working
in the computer field when his stepfather told him he would
like to be laid to rest in an artificial reef. The idea stuck,
and Brawley convinced others to come on board. Eternal Reefs
currently is the only company in the country that offers such
With many cremations, family members place the
deceased’s urns on shelves or in garages. Brawley called them
"shelf people" and said they often looked for a fitting
tribute, which Eternal Reefs provided.
a permanent environmental legacy that will last for
generations," he said.
Houston psychotherapist Kay Van
Cleave’s mother, Lola Kate Van Cleave, died 13 years ago. When
Van Cleave saw a story in the newspaper about Eternal Reefs,
she knew she had found what her mother would have
"I used to think, ‘I’m not going to have my
mother be in a file cabinet someplace,’" she said, telling the
story of writer and poet Dorothy Parker, whose ashes spent 15
years in a file cabinet in her lawyer’s office.
already told the executor of my will that this is what I want
done to me," Van Cleave said.
As the Osprey — on leave
for the day from its usual deep sea fishing excursions —
bobbed on the foot-high waves, family and friends of Iris
Schaa dropped iris flowers into the water and burned incense
in a spiritual ceremony accentuated by a traditional nautical
prayer from the crew of the Port Isabel shrimp boat "Far
Horizon," which lowered the reef balls slowly into place. The
memorials look like wiffle balls cut in half, with concave
holes and pitted surfaces to give marine life a place to take
Gary Drew Lindsey of Conroe plans to visit Iris
Schaa while scuba diving. Lindsey said he would like a similar
burial, but off a fishing community in Brazil
"This woman was like a mother to me," said
Lindsay, who retired from oil exploration. "She and her
husband talked me out of going to Vietnam, so she has a dear
place in my heart."
Keith Glenn of Houston lost his
wife, Nene Lizabeth Sims Glenn a year and a half ago. He and
his three grown children wanted to do something appropriate
for the environmentally conscious writer with a master’s
degree from Rice University.
"It seemed like such a
natural thing to do because we’re giving back to the
environment with this," said Glenn, who works in the oil
industry, explaining that the serenity of the ocean was a
"marvelous" way to give him a sense of closure.
compared to burial in a cemetery, "If you had to pick, it’s
really no choice."
For more information, visit http://www.eternalreefs.com/ or call