LIMA — More than 400 people attended a service Saturday to help remember those lost in 2019.
Chiles-Laman Funeral and Cremation Services held its 29th annual Tree of Remembrance Service at its Shawnee Chapel.
“We started out with about 125 people coming, so it has really grown,” said Bob Laman, president of the funeral home.
The idea is to help people get through the holidays.
“So many people get together for the holidays, and you have that empty chair there that’s been filled for so many years before. It’s just difficult to have that and not have that participation from that person. So hopefully this helps people through that,” said Laman.
The participants are given an ornament.
Anita Harriman was at the service to remember her mother, Mary Offenbacher, who died in February.
“It’s a time for remembering and remembering all she did, and it’s a very nice service. We were here 20 years ago for my dad,” she said.
The Tree of Remembrance service included remarks from the Rev. Todd Cosart and Father Stephen Blum.
People could pick up their crystal angel ornament and they had the option of taking it home to put on their tree or they could place it in the lobby of the Shawnee Chapel on the Tree of Remembrance, which will remain lit until New Year’s Day in honor of the memory of deceased loved ones. Many take their ornaments home.
“They want to take the ornament home with them and use them in their own decorations at home, put them on their tree or hang them from a little holder. So we use our own ornaments now on our Christmas tree here, as opposed to what we used to do years ago,” said Jim Chiles, former president and CEO of the funeral home.
Jim Chiles was around for the beginning of the Tree of Remembrance Services 29 years ago.
“I’d like to say that I thought of the idea. But I didn’t, I stole it from a funeral director friend of mine out in California, who had a memorial service such as this and they held it outside. They can do that, of course (in California). At Christmas time, we can’t do that. But we started here and not knowing how many people we might have,” said Chiles.
“Somebody asked me one time, ‘How long are you going to have this?’ And I said, ‘I hadn’t even thought about it.’ I guess we’ll do it until people tell us they don’t need it any longer.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.