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Family builds custom casket for father

TNS Regional News • Sep 3, 2013 at 7:07 PM

Ivan Stettler was the kind of father who deserved the best in the eyes of his family.

“To know him was to love him,” Jay Stettler, Ivan Stettler’s son, said. “Everybody loved Dad.”

“He really was the best dad in the world,” Brian Stettler, Jay Stettler’s elder brother, added.

For many years, Ivan Stettler was the picture of health, never letting age get in the way of what he wanted to do.

“He was even active as of last spring,” Sean Telljohann, Ivan Stettler’s grandson, said. “He was out cutting wood and painting the barn.”

One of Ivan Stettler’s loves was the woods by his home outside Lima. There was good reason for this, as he had planted and cared for many of those trees through the years.

“They really were a part of him,” Telljohann said. “For years, he planted trees in the woods.”

This love of wood led to Stettler working as a carpenter for much of his life, passing those skills onto his children.

“He built lots of houses,” Brian Stettler said, “and when we came of age, we all worked for him. We just learned to do all of those things over time.”

In fact, Brian Stettler has gone into construction work himself, and while Jay Stettler is a registered nurse at Lima Memorial Health System, he too retains the skills passed down by Ivan Stettler.

“Me and Jay, we built a shop to work out of a year ago,” Brian Stettler said.

This excited Ivan Stettler, who cut down some trees from his woods, including his favorite, red oak, and gave the wood to his sons for their shop. However, as Ivan’s health declined, ultimately leading to his death Aug. 18, the family had to think about how to handle his arrangements. This led to an interesting proposal from Ivan Stettler’s wife.

“Our stepmom asked us if we’d be interested in building a casket for him,” Brian Stettler said. “As it worked out, the wood we got was out of his woods and some of the trees he cut down were red oak, the wood he really liked. So that’s what we used to build the casket. We contacted Patrick Orians on this, and he gave us the guidelines on how it needed to be built.”

Over a two-week period, Brian Stettler, Jay Stettler, and Telljohann worked to assemble this final memorial for Ivan Stettler, and they wanted it to reflect their love and respect for him.

“It was something we could do for him as a tribute to how great of a father he was to us, how he was always there for us,” Brian Stettler said.

Not only was it a memorial for Ivan Stettler, but it was also a means to help bring the family closer and help in the grieving process.

“It really helped with accepting what was happening,” Telljohann said.

“At first it was a little unsettling,” Brian Stettler said, “but in working on it, we had a real sense of pride that we could make this tribute to our father.”

Patrick Orians and the staff of Siferd-Orians Funeral Home were very impressed with the finished product.

“It was very good quality,” Orians said. “You could tell there were some good carpentry genes in that family. I think people were impressed by it. It was his tree growing up, and now it’s his tree eternally.”

There was so much positive reaction at the viewing and the funeral that the Stettler family would like to continue building caskets for others in the future, even forming a new business, Our Father’s Hardwood Caskets.

“It’s a lot different than the prefabricated caskets you see online,” Brian Stettler said. “Dad would love it.”

For Telljohann, this whole endeavor reflected how Ivan Stettler himself lived out his days.

“He had a saying: ‘If it needs done, you do it.’”


By Craig Kelly  - The Lima News, Ohio (MCT)

©2013 The Lima News (Lima, Ohio)

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