Family miffed by memorial tree theftPublished 11:10am Thursday, August 15, 2013
A tree planted in memory of Ben Leitch, intended to honor him for decades to come, was dug up between July 27 and Aug. 1. His family hopes the thief will feel bad about it, though they don’t think they will get the tree back.
The Leitch family had planted the red maple May 9, the day of Ben’s memorial service. Located along County Road 1 and the Sophus Anderson road, on property owned by Ben’s brother, Barry and his wife, Carmen, the roots would have grown through Ben’s ashes.
A couple months later, Barry and Carmen left on vacation, leaving July 27, the tree secure in its spot, and returned Aug. 1 to find the tree gone.
“(Whoever took the tree) didn’t know they were messing with a burial site,” said Beth Hulm,” Ben’s sister. “But they were trespassing on private property and stole the tree.”
Ben’s aunt and uncle had ordered a plaque to place near the tree, but it hadn’t arrived when Barry and Carmen left for vacation. When they noticed the tree was missing, Barry reported the theft to the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Department.
The thief or thieves dug the tree out — there were obvious shovel marks, according to Carmen.
The family has purchased another red maple and planted it, along with adding the plaque, with the hope it will alert anyone that the tree has significant meaning.
“We don’t expect to get the tree back,” said Hulm. “But we hope whoever took the tree will feel some remorse, and leave the new one alone.”