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Memorials assure loved ones always have a place

Justin Reardon and his mother, Ronda, pose Friday at their Deer Park area business that incorporates ashes with stone monuments. 
 (Brian Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Justin Reardon and his mother, Ronda, pose Friday at their Deer Park area business that incorporates ashes with stone monuments. (Brian Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Traditionally, the words “human remains” and “concrete” are only used in the opening of a newspaper column to discuss the ongoing and perplexing disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa.

Well, not this time.

Today I bring exciting local news on the dearly departed disposal front.

Quite frankly, what Chris and Ronda Reardon have come up with at their Clayton concrete company has me rethinking my previously published aversion to being rendered into cinders when my own number comes up.

The road to afterlife enlightenment began late one afternoon when I sauntered into work to discover that one of my editors had forwarded me a press release.

“Deer Park Area Family Creates Tributes From Cremated Remains,” read the bold headline.

My editors are so thoughtful. Taking into account my advancing age and the number of hostile calls I receive, they believe I should be given each and every opportunity to get my affairs in order.

The more I read, however, the more intrigued I grew.

The Reardons run an ornamental concrete business out of a shop on the family’s 10-acre homestead. Each year they lug their products to 60 or 70 craft shows.

Not long ago, the Reardons decided to branch out. They now sell attractive memorial stones and garden benches that can be made with the cremated remains of a loved one actually mixed RIGHT IN WITH THE CONCRETE!

“Unlike spreading ashes on land or in water, this provides a convenient and everlasting way to have your loved one nearby, in a beautiful setting,” stated Chris in the release. “A family can also have many garden memorial stones made so each person can have his or her own memorable tribute …”

The Reardons believe they may be the country’s only concrete artisans offering this service. Check them out at

As with anything new, some may find their concept a bit off-putting. I, however, see it as a vast improvement over the ol’ ashes-in-the-jar tradition.

I have this recurring nightmare where the golden Urn of Doug tumbles off its high place of honor and spills all over the bathroom carpet. Next thing you know my poor survivors are faced with the unpleasant task of sucking me up with a rental RugDoctor.

Even worse would be getting shelved in a dark closet and ignored until somebody decides to move – or hold a yard sale.

No, sir, I think the Reardons are onto something. So on Friday I drove out to their operation to take a look.

I found a family of hard-working, friendly folks who stumbled into this unusual part of their business. Ronda says she was at a Spokane craft show last spring when a woman asked if C.R. Concrete could cast her late-husband’s ashes in a bench.

“It caught me a little off-guard,” Ronda says. “But I said sure.”

Along with the bench, the Reardons wound up making two 45-pound stones engraved with a cabin scene along with the gentleman’s name and requisite dates. All the items were made with the man’s ashes.

Adding cremated remains doesn’t affect the strength or durability of the concrete one bit, says Chris. The memorial items are water cured for 30 days and then coated with sealers. I don’t know squat about concrete, but I’m betting these babies will still be around when all the governmental public works projects are crumbling into dust.

Believing this venture could catch on, the Reardons hired some public relations pros to promote their unusual enterprise. Prices range from $160 to around 700 bucks depending on your order. The Reardons are currently working on a lovely memorial bench for another client.

As for designs, they offer everything from military emblems to school mascots. When it comes to molded concrete, just about anything is possible.

No bench or memorial stones for the Clark concrete ash condo, however. When the time comes, I want my dust customized into something off the beaten garden path.

A menacing porch gnome would be a fitting final resting place. Or how about a set of concrete “Wake Up and Read It” Doug mugs?

Whatever becomes of me, I’d want a stash of my ash left over for desktop paperweights.

One for each of my editors.