Natural Burial Program Update: Meet Nadine & Ronald 
June/July 2012
From the Director's Desk
This time of year at River View is our busiest.


Memorial Day for cemeteries is like Easter or Christmas for many churches. We welcome more visitors in that single weekend than we see the rest of the year.


Visiting the graves of our loved ones is a timeless tradition. Tending those graves is an act of respect and an opportunity to connect with the memory of those who have passed.


In our increasingly mobile society, many of us live far from the gravesites of our ancestors. And yet a pilgrimage to the family cemetery is still an important ritual for many - including Nadine, below - when we visit our hometowns.


River View's new natural burial section will provide a focal point of remembrance for the families of those who may not feel much connection to a conventional cemetery setting. Picture, instead, a beautiful, natural setting lush with native plants and filled with birdsong, where those who lived their lives committed to the planet's wellbeing can be remembered by their community.


Read on for the story of one family who has chosen to make a natural burial part of their own personal legacy. By planning ahead and finalizing all of their arrangements, they've given a gift of immeasurable value to their children. And by choosing a natural burial, their legacy will benefit generations to come.


I hope you'll share Nadine and Ronald's story with others (use the Forward to a Friend button below) and share your thoughts with me (


David Noble
Executive Director
River View Cemetery Association

Meet Nadine & Ronald


From their home in Johns Landing, Nadine and Ronald Thaheld can see the treetops at River View Cemetery. "The view up there is so gorgeous," Nadine says, "Ronald wants to be buried with binoculars."


Nadine and Ronald are among the forward-thinkers who have pre-planned their funeral and burial arrangements with River View. With their adult children spread across three states, they wanted to relieve them of the burden of guessing about their parents' end-of-life wishes. When they read an article in the newspaper about River View's new natural burial program, it seemed like a perfect fit.


Both 79, the couple have dedicated their lives to public service. "I'm upset about global warming and didn't want to add to it," says Nadine. "We're both concerned about why we're adding so many chemicals to the world, and we didn't want the cement vaults that my mother and father had. There might be some minerals in my body that would be of value to the earth - why burn them up in cremation? It's a waste of resources."


"We wanted to keep it simple," Ronald says. After meeting with River View's Family Service Counselor Gail Widmer, the pair selected plots at the top of the hill where they will be buried in woven grass caskets without embalming or burial vaults. Their gravesite will be marked by headstone that features a hummingbird, a tribute to Ronald's father who built a plane called a hummingbird and put the image on his own grave marker.


River View is unique in allowing natural burial nearly anywhere on the grounds. "Finding out we could choose any plot made a big difference for us," Nadine says. Thinking about her trips to her parents' gravesites in Southern California, she wanted "a nice place for our kids to come. We wanted a tree so we looked around a found a little shade tree."


Both Ronald and Nadine feel fortunate to have lived the lives they've lived. "We feel like we've won the lottery," says Ronald - whose father had tried unsuccessfully to buy tickets on the Titanic's final voyage. But they're concerned for their children, and for future generations.


"We don't want to beat up the planet any more," Nadine says. "And so we've bought our plots on that hill that we can see from our windows. It's an act of faith." 



At River View, you can plan to be buried nearly anywhere in the cemetery, directly in the earth without chemical embalming, in a biodegradable casket or a simple shroud.  In 2013 River View plans to open a new dedicated Natural Burial Area - free from harmful chemicals and pesticides.  And in coming years, we expect to make natural burial available in our beautiful forested areas.  For more information:  
In This Issue

- Meet Nadine & Ronald

- Cemetery Planning Update

- How Does a Forest Recover 

Cemetery Planning Update

The dedicated natural burial section we're planning will be the first new garden at River View in over 20 years. In addition to creating a beautiful, natural setting, we're developing opportunities for our natural burial customers to contribute to the health of the plants, birds, and  animals that call the cemetery home - along with the river below us. We've been meeting with our neighbors at Lewis & Clark College and Portland Parks & Recreation to explore partnerships that will benefit the entire westside watershed. Stay tuned for further developments. 
How Does a Forest Recover?
Students at Lewis & Clark College are working with the City of Portland to investigate how a forest recovers when the invasive species such as ivy and blackberries are removed.  The study is taking place on land adjacent to River view Cemetery.  We expect the findings to be useful as our natural burial program helps to restore full health to our forested areas.  Read more
Forward to a Friend
Help us reach more people who are interested in supporting the development of eco-friendly burial options in the Portland metro area.  Click on the "Forward to a Friend" link at the bottom of this page to send this email to others.
Just Joining Our E-News List?
You can now read past issues of our Natural Burial Program E-Update on the web.