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'They even steal from the dead'
Grave marker for veteran inscribed with prayer missing from Lakeview Cemetery

Shane Magee
Northern News Services
Friday, May 20, 2016

Eleanor Bran went to the Veterans Field of Honour at Lakeview Cemetery on Mother's Day to visit the grave of Barrie Bran, her husband of 39 years.

NNSL photo/graphic

Eleanor Bran was upset to discover her late husband's grave marker missing from the Lakeview Cemetery earlier this month. - Shane Magee/NNSL photo

She went to where a marker had stood for the 20-year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces who died in 2004. The marker, a stone tablet about one foot wide by six inches high was inscribed with the Serenity Prayer - on courage and wisdom in times of change - and held up by a small triangular wrought iron stand.

It was the first time she had made it to the Veterans' Field of Honour site in the graveyard since the snow had fallen.

But when she arrived, the grave marker - too heavy to simply have blown away - was gone. She believes someone stole it.

"They even steal from the dead," she said in an interview Tuesday. "It's so wrong. You don't steal off the dead. I consider that his plaque."

She said it felt like someone stabbed her in the heart. The prayer, Bran said, was one of the few things the couple still have in common.

Barrie Franklin Bran of Vancouver served 20 years in the Royal Canadian Air Force until retiring in 1958 and moving North with his family.

The missing plaque is one of three Eleanor purchased after her husband died Sept. 10, 2004. One remains in her home and another with her daughter in Alberta. Bran doesn't want to have to bring the one from her home out to the graveyard.

The item has huge sentimental value to her but she doesn't see how it would be valuable to anyone else.

"It's meaningless to somebody who stole it," she said. "The bottom line is that if the person would bring it back, that would be nice."

The graveyard isn't in a high traffic part of the city. It's located in a forested area behind the Bristol pit and Bristol Monument.

Bran said several times she's been to the graveyard when there have been people standing around clearly not there mourning. Some, she said, appear to have been drinking.

She's wondering why the site isn't patrolled more by the city's bylaw enforcement officers.

The city, spokesperson Nalini Naidoo stated in an e-mail bylaw enforcement officers do periodic patrols of the graveyard and will continue to do so.

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