|Grant Wiebe said that two to three feet of debris were piled by his wife’s grave at Plum Coulee Sommerfeld Church last summer, but the pile has since grown. (GREG VANDERMUELEN/ QMI AGENCY)
PLUM COULEE, Man. — A Toronto man is planning to exhume the body of his wife from a Plum Coulee-area cemetery because of a large pile of debris left next to her grave.
When Grant Wiebe visited his wife’s grave this summer he found an eight-foot pile of tree limbs, grass clippings and brush less than two feet away in a corner of the immaculately mowed and trimmed Grossweide Cemetery northeast of Plum Coulee.
Adjacent to his wife’s grave and partially on top of another nearby grave, the brush pile has grown from the year previous, when Wiebe first tried to get it cleaned up.
“Last year there was two or three feet of junk building there,” he said. “This summer I came to visit ... to see that pile of crap there is disgusting.”
Wiebe said he tried to get the pile cleaned up but nobody was willing to take responsibility for it. The cemetery is owned by the Plum Coulee Sommerfeld Church.
Wiebe even speculated that the pile might have been left there because his wife committed suicide after battling depression for years.
Wiebe grew up near Plum Coulee and though his wife was from El Salvador, he chose to bury her near the community he grew up in.
“I just wanted to put her in a nice peaceful place,” he said. “I will have her buried elsewhere because to have her disrespected like this is unbelievable.”
Sommerfeld Church deacon Ken Reimer said no disrespect for any of the graves was intended. He speculated the debris, left by volunteers who maintain the cemetery, was placed in the farthest corner, away from the road.
“When the people trim branches they need a place to put them,” he said, pointing out when volunteers come with cars or minivans, they aren’t going to put the compost and branches inside.
Reimer said they plan to clean up the pile but will wait until harvest is complete so they can access the cemetery from a field that is currently swathed and waiting to be combined.
Reimer flatly denied that the manner of death had anything to do with how the cemetery is maintained.
“The people that take care of that cemetery, most of them don’t have a clue whose body is under the ground let alone how they died,” he said.
Reimer said he wished Wiebe would have contacted him directly instead of contacting media. Wiebe said he had the Rural Municipality of Rhineland contact Reimer previously but had never spoken to him personally.
“I would like somebody in the Sommerfeld Church to say somebody screwed up, let’s clean it up and make damn sure it doesn’t happen again,” Wiebe said.
Without a personal explanation and apology, Wiebe said he plans to go ahead with the disinterment of his wife, blaming himself for choosing the site.
“I feel so helpless,” he said. “I’m mad at myself for putting her there.”