Monday, June 18, 2007

Is there a plywood coffin in your future?

This is hopefully the beginning of a plywood coffin movement. I cannot let the story of Ruth Bell Graham being buried in a plywood coffin simply die. The story must live again and again as the trend catches on with regular folks and who will pledge the thousands of dollars difference in cost to a worthy charity.

Husband John Worst and I hope to first contact some people in our local church and our broader denomination, the Christian Reformed Church. We would like to stir up interest with people who will commit themselves to being part of PLYWOOD COFFINS, by going to the grave the way of Ruth and Billy.

The obstacles are few, but they might deep six this whole idea. It's entirely possible that the idea simply won't catch on--that no one else will come along with us in this venture. And, it's also entirely possible that the State of Michigan will throw some obstacles in our way.

But we will carry on with the cause until we are stopped stone-cold dead on cushions of silk in our very own expensive designer caskets.

John is an amateur carpenter----builds decks, cabinets, potting sheds and more----and he's promised to be ready to design and build coffins at a moment's notice, hopefully with the help of some other committed coffin carpenters.

If you're interested, please contact us at tuckerworst@comcast[dot]net, or call (616)647-1030.


Plywood Coffins (our plan to contribute to charity what we save by being buried in a plywood coffin) is not just for those of us who can afford a pricey casket. It's for those who can't. These coffins will be offered free of charge to such families who live locally.


Here is the Graham story from Christian News Today

Ruth Bell Graham’s final wishes reflected in simple plywood coffin, made by prisoners

Both Grahams’ caskets selected by son Franklin at 2005 visit to Louisiana correctional facility

by Michael Ireland

ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA (ANS) -- Besides their choice of a simple resting place at the foot of a cross-shaped walkway at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, it has been revealed this week that both Dr. Billy and Mrs. Ruth Bell Graham will be buried in plain plywood caskets.

The decision concerning a burial site for the Grahams was made by the couple earlier this Spring, despite some differences of opinion by their five children. The decision regarding their coffins resulted from a visit to the Louisiana State Penitentiary by the Graham's son Franklin two years ago.

According to information released to the media by Larry Ross, the Graham's personal spokesman, Franklin Graham noticed some coffins being produced by the inmates on a visit to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, Louisiana, in 2005. Upon inquiry, he learned this was a project inmates began several years ago when warden Burl Cain discovered that many of the poorer inmates were being buried in cardboard boxes.

The warden had the inmates construct simple plywood coffins for themselves and others who could not afford to purchase them. In addition to making the caskets, the prisoners -– many of them former hardened criminals who are now committed Christians -– also pray over them.

Franklin was struck by the simple and natural beauty of these caskets and requested that the prisoners design and build two of them for his parents. Mr. and Mrs. Grahams’ coffins were built by inmate Richard “Grasshopper” Liggett, with the help of others, whose names are burned into the wood.

The coffins are made of plywood and lined with a mattress pad. The Grahams requested no special upgrades to the caskets, which cost around $200 to make. They were modified slightly for easier transport to multiple locations.

Upon his death, Mr. Graham will be buried in his own matching casket and laid to rest next to his wife at the foot of the cross-shaped walkway in the Prayer Garden at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte.

Following Franklin’s visit to the prison, a chapel at Angola was dedicated in Mr. Graham’s honor in 2006.


Husband John measured me for a very simple rectangular coffin while I laid on the floor, and we concluded that for an average size adult a box 6 feet long, 24 inches wide, and 12 inches high should do it. His initial plan is to have the framing inside with plywood pannels on the outside, a hinged top with fasteners, and two or three handles on each side. No extras like staining or 6-sided design as shown in the pictures below. But there are simple plans here for those who want to add an extra touch to the home-made coffin.

Here's a stained plywood coffin that appears to be more than rectangular.

Here's a bookcase that easily becomes a burial container at time of death.


This shows a photo.

Here is the actual pattern

Prisoner made Ruth Graham's coffin

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- Shortly before he died, convicted murderer Richard Liggett was asked to make two of the simple plywood coffins he meticulously crafted for fellow prisoners. Except the caskets would be for Billy and Ruth Graham.

"Humbled? He was honored, he was honored," said Burl Cain, warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary. "He told me, of everything that ever happened in his life, the most profound thing

was to build this coffin for Billy Graham and his family."

Graham's son Franklin made the request after seeing the coffins on a visit to the Angola prison and being struck by their simplicity, according to a statement from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Ruth Graham was to be buried in one Sunday at a private ceremony at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C. She died Thursday at age 87 after a lengthy illness.

"I wish you could look in that casket because she's so beautiful," Billy Graham told mourners who gathered Saturday to remember his beloved wife. "She was a wonderful woman."

The coffins are made of birch plywood and lined with a foam mattress pad covered with fabric. Brass handles are on the sides, while a cross adorns the top. The price: $215 each.

Liggett, who was serving a life sentence for second-degree murder, led a team of prisoners who built the coffins for the Graham family. He had found God in prison, Cain said.

"You would never think he'd be a prisoner. He wasn't all marked up," Cain said. "He just did a terrible thing, one time in New Orleans."

The prison has a Bible college and chapel near death row funded largely by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse.

Cain said many of its 5,108 prisoners are Christian and were spending the weekend "preaching and praying and remembering the Graham family."

But Liggett won't be among them: He died of cancer in March, nearly 31 years into his sentence. He was buried in one of the last coffins he built, Cain said.


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Lance Tankmen said...

Really cool, thanks for sahring this. I need to find a good casket in Salem OR. They cost a lot!

Jackson Leavitt said...

There is a company called Elmwood Casket Company that is close to my home. I have never been in there before, but I'd be interested in seeing what kind of caskets they make there.

Amelia Gillian said...

My husband and I have been looking into planning our estate for the future. We have drafted a will and bought two plots in the local cemetery. We would like to be buried next to each other, if possible. We have been looking into memorial head stones, so that our children won't have to worry about things like that for us.

Quin Trent said...

That is a very interesting idea for a casket. The fact that you could use it as a book shelf until death and then you are put in that exact casket. I mean it is a good idea and all, but I am not sure if I would be comfortable doing that myself. It would make me feel on edge at all times.