Dads “Hope Chest” Casket

Travis Kiker


Project Description
Legacy through Lumber My dad passed away July 14, 2020. He was a logger, owning his own business from 1966-1981 until he went into the ministry full time, continuing to work side jobs with trees (tree service) in North Carolina. As Opie was to Andy, I was to my dad. As a child I tagged along for the jobs at the heels of my father. In 1993, I moved to the Raleigh, NC area and began working with a local Tree and Landscape service. Eventually starting my own company, Little Squirrels Inc. Now our tree and landscape business is thriving, long-standing and reputable. Dad worked with me from giving estimates, hurricane response and just the daily work. In the latter years, he developed dementia but would still be by my side a few days a week. Even though he could no longer communicate, he loved to be with the trees and he enjoyed our customers. In 2018, we purchased an abandoned 1907 farm to restore. We harvested the trees on the property in Wendell and the trees from our business to develop a new legacy for generations to come. I have wanted to own and operate a sawmill for years and not only was it a wise financial investment; but it also enabled us to recycle and steward the trees. Upcycling the harvest from our area Homestead: turning trash to treasure. We began processing our own lumber for the building and renovation of our farm. From animal shelters, fencing, to a Barn-dominium, we have upcycled and created a legacy that will be memories for years to come. My Dad met his maker last July. I wanted to honor his legacy by building his casket. More than 20 years ago, my dad had cut a large Red Cedar tree in Western NC and kept the logs. He moved those logs from house to house as he and my mom raised our family. Somehow, I ended up with them on the farm. How ironic that I would have the privilege to mill those logs. Thus providing a resting place for my mentor, my friend, my children’s Papa. Day and night my son and I (and a few friends) milled, built, sanded and sealed "Dads Hope Chest." My son, Stone, forged steel metal handles and crafted leaves of trees. He also hand sanded side rails, which he had created from White Oak. The cross of that old Red Cedar bark edges and hand hewn pegs for the top were the final added crown that brought everything together. We Buried Dad in that Hope Chest out at the far peaceful corner of our farm under the trees, near the 100+ year old tobacco barn. Family and friends gathered in the shade, as sons shared faith, all sang songs and said goodbye to a man that stood strong, was deep rooted and remained true like a strong mighty Oak tree.

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