June 15, 2022 at 5:40 p.m.

Name your flowers

Name your flowers
Name your flowers

By Ben Sonnek- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Gamradts retrieve cemetery bouquets after windstorms


Once the Memorial Day storm winds subsided, Bob and Cele Gamradt emerged from their home to find flowers all over the lawn. While they knew where the flowers came from, the problem was that they did not know exactly where they should go.

In the May 30 and June 12 storms, strong winds blew through Sauk Centre from the south. The Gamradts live east of town and north of three cemeteries – St. Paul’s, Calvary and Greenwood – so when the wind blows their way, they end up with the flowers and floral arrangements left on tombstones and monuments. There are usually plenty of those on any given day during the spring and summer, but with the storms being so severe and occurring so close to Memorial Day, the Gamradts had more arrangements than usual to collect from their property.

“It’s been happening for many, many years, but this is the worst year for wind,” Cele said. “(The flowers) go all the way across our yard and up into the trees, and we find them all over. So, before we go to mow, we pick them all up.”

After gathering the errant arrangements, the Gamradts leave them on a fence around their gas hookup between their home and St. Paul’s cemetery, and people can pick them up from there. They wish they could take the flowers back to the graves where they came from, but they do not know which ones go where.

“I just wish people could just put the names on them; then, we could find the graves,” Cele said. “It’s pretty simple, pretty easy, but a lot of people don’t think of it.”

The Gamradts have lived in their home for 34 years. There used to be elm trees and a fence between them and St. Paul’s Cemetery, but the trees were removed so they wouldn’t hit the power lines; the fence was also taken down because it was tough to trim and kept catching trash. People used to go to the fence to look for their flowers after a windstorm, but now the Gamradts have to get the flowers so their owners do not have to trespass to get them back.

Now retired, Cele has worked for a florist before, so she knows how much these arrangements are worth both financially and emotionally. She does not want flowers of such value to get lost or thrown away; she also does not want them to end up on the wrong person’s grave, making it look like someone stole them.

“I know how much they cost to make, and I know how much they cost to buy,” Cele said. “People put out so much money for those things, and it’s also a sentimental thing; they go to put flowers on their loved one’s grave, and then they come back and they’re gone.”

Cele recommends taking a small piece of paper and writing the name of the deceased person for whom the flowers are meant, then using packing tape to secure it to the underside of the floral arrangement or to the base of the flower. The tape helps prevent the name from getting wet and faded.

This year, Cele has only found one arrangement with a name on it: Victor Bromenshenkel, whose granddaughter is married to the Gamradts’ son. Cele knew where Bromenshenkel’s grave was, so she could return it; as someone who has lived in the Sauk Centre area for 50 years and has been on many walks around the cemetery, she knows many other gravestone names and has helped visitors find particular ones.

While it is not the most efficient system, the Gamradts have had a few people stop by their gas hookup fence to claim their flowers.

“I was talking to a guy the other day,” Cele said. “He said, ‘I’m going to bring my wife back out here because she had red roses on her mom’s monument, but there are two red ones out here, and I don’t know which one it is.’”

The Gamradts do not mind collecting the flowers, and they like living close to the cemeteries, especially at night when the solar lights make the area look like its own little village. Of course, those solar lights can also blow away when they are attached to floral arrangements.

“We’re happy to put them back,” Cele said, “if people would just put the names on the bottom.”


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