Family met with backlash after hiding NSFW message in father's tombstone

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By stefan armitage

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In Iowa, a family has defended hiding a sassy hidden gravestone message for their deceased father following complaints from locals.

Upon the death of Steven Paul Owens, his family wanted to remember him by using one of his favorite day-to-day phrases.

Owens sadly passed away at the age of 59 back in September of 2021.

However, because a cemetery is a place for quiet reflection, Owens' family opted to hide the message on his tombstone at Polk County's Warren-Powers Cemetery.

Steven's headstone is engraved with the following epitaph, as reported by WIBW. It reads:

"Forever in our hearts. Until we meet again. Cherished memories. Known as. Our son, brother. Father, papa, uncle. Friend and cousin."

As you read the tribute, you may think there is nothing wrong with it. And your assumption would be correct... except for the gravestone's arrangement of the message.

"Forever in our hearts.
Until we meet again.
Cherished memories.
Known as.

Our son, brother.
Father, papa, uncle.
Friend and cousin."

Not that I feel the need to spell it out for you, but the first letter of each line reads: 'F*** OFF' - a phrase Steven's daughter, Lindsay Owens, says was a "term of endearment" used by her father. "If he didn’t like you, he didn’t speak to you. It’s just who he was," Lindsay said.

The late father's kids even say that they would often try to get Steven to say the phrase as part of a family in-joke.

Nevertheless, it wasn't long before the headstone resulted in reported complaints from employees who tend to the cemetery.

WIBW reports that staff have been against the cheeky epitaph from the very start as they believe profanity is not suitable for a graveyard - a place they believe should be for peaceful reflection.

A statement from The Camp Township Trustees read: "The Camp Township Trustees were and are against this headstone being placed in our cemetery. How would you like your spouse, child, mother, father, grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin, your loved one, or eventually you be laid to rest next to that for eternity?"

But Steven's family held firm on the way they chose to honor their father, with son Zachary telling the news station: "No one’s forcing anyone to come out and look at it. That’s a choice that you make.

"We didn’t do it to offend anyone, make anyone mad or hurt anyone’s feelings. We did it because it was our father, and we love him, and that’s how we remember him."

Additionally, daughter Linday told TODAY Parents: "I have visited his grave many times since he passed away and I don't know what the headstones say next to [dad's]".

A spokesperson for Polk County told TODAY that family members can write headstone inscriptions of their choice, and the small community doesn't dictate memorial markers.

Camp Township Board of Trustees member Alex Johnson says that nobody "should visit a loved one at one of our cemeteries and leave offended", and that they will be "re-evaluating their procedure for memorial markings moving forward."

What do you think of the headstone? Is it a touching tribute or something that doesn't belong in a cemetery? Let us know in the comments!

Featured image credit: Claudiad / Getty

Family met with backlash after hiding NSFW message in father's tombstone

vt-author-image

By stefan armitage

Article saved!Article saved!

In Iowa, a family has defended hiding a sassy hidden gravestone message for their deceased father following complaints from locals.

Upon the death of Steven Paul Owens, his family wanted to remember him by using one of his favorite day-to-day phrases.

Owens sadly passed away at the age of 59 back in September of 2021.

However, because a cemetery is a place for quiet reflection, Owens' family opted to hide the message on his tombstone at Polk County's Warren-Powers Cemetery.

Steven's headstone is engraved with the following epitaph, as reported by WIBW. It reads:

"Forever in our hearts. Until we meet again. Cherished memories. Known as. Our son, brother. Father, papa, uncle. Friend and cousin."

As you read the tribute, you may think there is nothing wrong with it. And your assumption would be correct... except for the gravestone's arrangement of the message.

"Forever in our hearts.
Until we meet again.
Cherished memories.
Known as.

Our son, brother.
Father, papa, uncle.
Friend and cousin."

Not that I feel the need to spell it out for you, but the first letter of each line reads: 'F*** OFF' - a phrase Steven's daughter, Lindsay Owens, says was a "term of endearment" used by her father. "If he didn’t like you, he didn’t speak to you. It’s just who he was," Lindsay said.

The late father's kids even say that they would often try to get Steven to say the phrase as part of a family in-joke.

Nevertheless, it wasn't long before the headstone resulted in reported complaints from employees who tend to the cemetery.

WIBW reports that staff have been against the cheeky epitaph from the very start as they believe profanity is not suitable for a graveyard - a place they believe should be for peaceful reflection.

A statement from The Camp Township Trustees read: "The Camp Township Trustees were and are against this headstone being placed in our cemetery. How would you like your spouse, child, mother, father, grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin, your loved one, or eventually you be laid to rest next to that for eternity?"

But Steven's family held firm on the way they chose to honor their father, with son Zachary telling the news station: "No one’s forcing anyone to come out and look at it. That’s a choice that you make.

"We didn’t do it to offend anyone, make anyone mad or hurt anyone’s feelings. We did it because it was our father, and we love him, and that’s how we remember him."

Additionally, daughter Linday told TODAY Parents: "I have visited his grave many times since he passed away and I don't know what the headstones say next to [dad's]".

A spokesperson for Polk County told TODAY that family members can write headstone inscriptions of their choice, and the small community doesn't dictate memorial markers.

Camp Township Board of Trustees member Alex Johnson says that nobody "should visit a loved one at one of our cemeteries and leave offended", and that they will be "re-evaluating their procedure for memorial markings moving forward."

What do you think of the headstone? Is it a touching tribute or something that doesn't belong in a cemetery? Let us know in the comments!

Featured image credit: Claudiad / Getty