More than 20 babies whose cremated remains had sat on local mortuary shelves, some for as many as 70 years, will receive a memorial service at 3 p.m. Sunday at Roseburg Memorial Gardens.
Most of the babies are believed to have been stillborn or, in some cases, to have lived for about a day. Their cremains were discovered by Carol Hunt when she was searching for cremains of veterans who had not received funerals.
Hunt’s efforts finding the veteran remains led to a set of formal memorial services for 28 forgotten veterans in May.
But Hunt said the discovery of the babies’ remains tugged at her heart.
“I never lost a child, fortunately, but I know women who have. It’s just that mother instinct,” she said.
She said these babies were human beings, and they deserve to be memorialized.
“It’s just our culture. I don’t know what they do in other countries, but here we bury our dead and we treat them with respect,” she said.
Hunt had made contact with the California-based Garden of Innocence, a charity that arranges for abandoned babies to be buried. Hunt and the 25 other local volunteers who became involved in plans for a memorial service had hoped to follow the Garden of Innocence model in preparing to memorialize and bury the babies’ remains.
They started the group Wings of Love to oversee the project, with Hunt serving as president. The intention was to obtain the ashes, place them in urns, wrap them up with blankets and toys and bury them with a memorial service in the International Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery. In August 2018, they held a ceremony to dedicate land at that cemetery for the purpose of holding future child and baby burials there.
But plans had to be altered after Wilson’s Chapel of the Roses, which had had possession of the remains, notified the group that they would be burying the remains in their own cemetery, Roseburg Memorial Gardens, rather than releasing them to Wings of Love.
The memorial service planned for Sunday has been adapted to that fact. The urns and blankets and toys won’t be used Sunday. Instead, the service will use a white rose to symbolize each baby, with pink or blue wrapping and tags.
The service will be led by Jim Little of Roseburg and will include prayer, singing, poems, recitation of the babies’ names and death dates, laying of white roses and a release of doves.
“The Douglas County Wings of Love intend to give these unremembered babies a proper remembrance service showing that we are in a sense their missing mother and father and they deserve a proper farewell and their short life had meaning,” Little said.
Hunt said Wings of Love has reached out to local churches and is hoping the ceremony will be well attended.
Babies to be memorialized Sunday include: Baby Girl Stubblefield, died July 27, 1977; Baby Boy Sunderland, died Nov. 22, 1978; Baby Girl Dockey, died 1978; Baby Girl Gaddy, died Dec. 20, 1978; Baby Boy Klumph, died March 16, 1978; Baby Kim, died March 16, 1979; Baby Grager, died 1981; Baby Brooks, died 1984; Baby Girl Iaeger, died April 6, 1985 and Baby Cheba Andry, died Jan. 21, 1987; Baby Boy Grauf, died April 1984; Baby Duncan, died February 1987; Baby Girl Chapman, died Oct. 10, 1948; Baby Boy Houser, died April 20, 1949; Baby Boy Henry, died Sept. 4, 1954; Baby Girl Mayer, died April 2, 1954; Baby Girl Erickson, died April 2, 1954; Baby Girl Jones, died Feb. 26, 1982; Baby Borton, died Dec. 18, 1981; Anthony Speigel, died July 23, 1989; Richard Hollis, died Feb. 8, 1995 and Justin Timothy York, died Nov. 16, 1984.
One baby was claimed and scattered by the family, and won’t be named during the service.
Hunt said the space at Odd Fellows and the blankets and urns are available for other families who lose a baby or young child up to age 8, and burial there along with memorial services will be provided for free.
Families who have lost a child and would like a memorial service from Wings of Love can contact Hunt at 503-504-8198.