Rayner family shocked by theft of memorial fire pit from Lake Cowichan

Roasting wieners at the site is part of a fun ritual when the family visits Darreld Rayner’s memorial

Brent Rayner and his family are distressed that the memorial for his father, Darreld, missing 10 years before his remains were discovered in the woods near Lake Cowichan, has been vandalized.

“It was brought to my attention yesterday, July 15, that there had been an incident at Dad’s tree,” he said Tuesday. “It was very vague. After I inquired about it with a post on Facebook and asked if anyone had been out there lately, a good friend of ours offered to go check it out for me quickly.

“He arrived at the site and found Dad’s bowling ball had fallen off the rocks, again, and a very special fire pit that was made in his honour by another one of my good friends, had been stolen from the memorial site.”

Rayner’s family created the site some years ago, in the woods south of Lake Cowichan. His remains were found in the Fairservice logging area.

“I was originally told that the memorial site was destroyed, so hearing this news wasn’t as bad as I had first thought. When I heard it was destroyed, I thought the worst. Did someone cut down the tree that we planted? Did they rip out all the rock landscaping that we worked hard on? Did a forest company bulldoze the site for a reason?

“These are all things that went through my head. I was in shock.”

But the hurt was still there.

“It was just as upsetting to hear that someone would disgrace Dad’s memorial site by stealing a memorial item. It’s been 11 years since we planted his tree and claimed that spot to be his memorial.

“It has been untouched this whole time until just over a year ago when we had finally put him to rest, and finding this out the day after his birthdate didn’t help the emotions we felt.”

He has posted on Facebook with photos of the fire pit hoping that someone will spot it, or that the person who took it will see that it’s a memorial item and return it.

“Dad loved a campfire, specially if there were tube steaks to be roasted. Every time we go out there whether it’s to tidy up the area or to just remember, we light a fire and roast some tube steaks. Spotting it [the fire pit] wouldn’t be difficult. It has ‘Rayner’ welded [on] the top ring. If whoever took it tries to grind it off, I would assume there would be marks as well.

The family says there’s a small reward offered for its return, no questions asked.

“We just want it back where it belongs. With my Dad,” Rayner said.

“We have had a lot of support on social media with this. Hopefully we get it back soon. One thing I must add. No name was given to me for the person who brought this to our family’s attention. We are ever so grateful to whomever it was. Thank-you greatly.”

Darreld Rayner of Lake Cowichan was missing for about a decade after leaving for a walk one day in 2007 and never returning.

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