Natural Burial Program Update: Meet Johnette
June 2013
From the Director's Desk

In addition to our usual peak in annual visitation over Memorial Day weekend, this May brought another new high at River View Cemetery. We served a record-high number of families with natural burial services.


Last year nearly one-quarter of the burials we conducted at River View were natural burials. While many cemeteries are doing only two or three a year, in May alone we conducted six natural burials at River View.


Our Natural Burial Program continues to draw attention from a wide range of audiences. We recently hosted a busload of researchers from the international Association for Gravestone Studies, who were interested not only in our historic gravesites, but in the contemporary revival of the practice of natural burial - which was the norm throughout most of history.


Ecological restoration of our forested acreage is proceeding (see the update below) while we continue to plan our new Natural Burial area.

Read on for the story of a long-time consumer advocate who recently changed her final arrangements from cremation to natural burial. And please enjoy the poem "Come to the Forest to Visit Me" which expresses the sentiment behind many of the inquiries we are getting these days.


I hope you'll share Johnette's story and Lurana's poem 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 Johnette


The property Johnette Orpinela shares with her son and daughter-in-law features an ecoroof that made news as one of the first adopted for residential use. So it's no surprise that she recently chose to update her funeral arrangements.


"I am among those who have changed my final instructions from cremation to natural burial, primarily because it uses less energy," she told a crowd gathered for the annual meeting of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Oregon (FCAO). A retired school librarian and longtime FCAO board member, Johnette has long felt strongly about pre-planning for end-of-life arrangements, having experienced the comfort and confidence that "one phone call was all that was necessary" when both her mother and husband had died. But at that time they weren't aware of natural burial, and so both had opted for cremation.


But when Johnette learned about River View's Natural Burial program, she says with a smile, "It just felt very natural to go natural. We have always felt strongly about our responsibility to care for the environment."


As a consumer advocate Johnette also says, "I'm delighted that River View has found a way both to develop a separate natural area, and to make provisions for green burial in the more tailored part of the cemetery for those who want to be with a loved one who's already buried in those sections. It may mean more effort in the grounds keeping, so it's generous of them to meet families' needs in this way." 

Restoration Update


As we announced last fall, River View has begun the ecological restoration of over 14 acres of cemetery forest that was choked by invasive weeds. Late last year, workers from West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District began attacking the English ivy that's cloaking the trees along with the underlying tangle of blackberries. The ravine already looks markedly different as a result. This spring workers returned to address more of the ivy covering the ground. This summer, the tree ivy, which is still in the process of dying, will turn light brown; fall winds will begin to blow those leaves off. Alongside the conservation efforts of neighboring Lewis & Clark College and Portland Parks & Recreation, we are proud to contribute to the health of this critical watershed.

A non-profit serving the community since 1882, River View Cemetery is a national leader in expanding options for environmentally-friendly funeral and burial practices.  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.  River View is also developing 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 Johnette

- Restoration Update

- Come to the Forest


Come to the Forest to Visit Me

by Lurana Brown


Come to the forest to visit me

Down by the roots of a tree

Waste not your tears on cold stone graves

Water a flower for me


Give me to the earth when my winter comes

Bury me deep in the ground

Mark not my place with statues or caves

Find me where life can be found


Come to the woods when autumn leaves turn

Golden and copper and red

Rustle up memories, seeds of joy stored

Kick up the leaves in my stead


Visit a garden on warm, summer days

Keep company with blossoms and bees

Remember my heartblooms forever in yours

Take comfort from shushing shade trees


Let springtime surround you with life and the living

Birdsong and budding green leaves

Look up at the sky, give thanks for sun and rain

When you think of me, smile more than grieve


Come to the forest to visit me

Down by the roots of a tree

Live every day that is given to you

Water a new flower for me


Reprinted with permission from Lurana Brown

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.