ROBINS, Iowa – Ray Sullivan had an idea after his wife of nearly 50 years died: Build his own coffin from a huge walnut tree.
The tree had already been cut down and was curing when his wife, Judy, was buried in 2009 in a casket that was handmade by the Trappist monks of the New Melleray Abbey, near Dubuque.
The tree, which was on a neighbor's land in Robins, started growing about 1930 – the same year Sullivan was born. He finished the 6-foot-long casket last year, The Cedar Rapids, Iowa Gazette reported Friday.
“The saying is, you can't take it with you, but I'm going to take it with me,” said Sullivan, who'll turn 82 on July 31.
His casket has eight brass handles and a top that's held down by screws. Sullivan also created a decorative border made of 144 tabs, each engraved with his initials and meant to be broken off by mourners and kept as a remembrance.