AUMSVILLE, Ore. -- Laying a loved one to rest can be extremely painful and difficult. But when you have to bury someone twice, it only makes the pain come back all over again.
That is what has happened to the family of Pete Reding, who died back in 1979, and was buried in one of Oregon’s oldest cemeteries, Stipp Cemetery near Aumsville.
“We had no idea what so ever this could happen,” said John Reding, one of the eight Reding children.
“It's just weird coming up here all these years and now they're moving him. It's just not right,” said Mary Ann Reding-Gabriel, the eldest of the Reding children.
The Reding family has now moved their father from Stipp Cemetery to St. Mary Cemetery, a few miles away, because the plot next to him where their mother was supposed to be buried already had someone laid to rest there.
“And from what we understand, they [Stipp Cemetery managers] still don't know who's there because there is no headstone,” John Reding told Newschannel 8.
Because the cemetery doesn’t know whose body it is, they could not move it to allow Pete’s wife to be buried next to him. The Reding family decided to move their dad instead. They had him disinterred and moved to a plot next to their mother at St. Mary Cemetery.
During the re-burial at St. Mary, John Reding prayed, “Our Heavenly Father, thank you for our ability to maintain a distance from it so that we don't traumatize anyone else as well as help other people become aware that this kind of thing can happen.”
It can happen because when Pete Reding was buried in 1978, Oregon had no cemetery record regulations. That only changed seven years after his death in 1985.
The Oregon Mortuary Board is supposed to physically check cemetery records at every cemetery once every two years. But the state has nearly 500 cemeteries and only one investigator, making it next to impossible to keep up. That makes it critical for families who have bought a plot to check to make sure that it’s still available.
The Reding family now understands the problem. Because Stipp Cemetery is run by volunteers, the family doesn’t blame them for mistakenly burying someone in a plot that was supposed to belong to their mother – a plot that now has a body whose identity may never be known.