Community makes it good after vandalism of pioneer gravestone

A century later, Swiss immigrant long gone, but still not forgotten

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian Breaking News Reporter



Even though he died in 1908, age 41, Alexander Stuber now has the newest gravestone in the Camas Cemetery.

“The important thing is, he has a stone,” said Joey Fuerstenberg, owner of Vancouver Granite Works.

Fuerstenberg and employee Kyle Cochran installed the granite marker Friday morning, replacing the marble stone that was destroyed last fall.

Stuber’s grave marker was one of 15 headstones toppled by vandals on Oct. 23, according to Camas police. Cemetery crews and volunteers righted all the headstones except for Stuber’s; it was broken into three pieces.

Camas police investigated the incident and by the next day had arrested Michael Garwood, 21, of Camas. He originally faced 15 counts of violating laws that protect cemeteries and second-degree criminal mischief, but the prosecuting attorney’s office didn’t file the charges.

Charges against Garwood could be filed later, Camas Police Sgt. Scot Boyles said, though police are actively looking for a second suspect, which would wrap up the case.

Stuber’s new stone is a near replica of the original.

Rebecca Reich, Fuerstenberg’s 25-year-old daughter and office manager at the company, reproduced the image of a rose for the new grave by using a rubbing of the old grave and looking at photos of what the marker used to look like. That design was then etched onto the stone.

“It’s fun to do something to give back to the community,” Fuerstenberg said.

He used stainless steel pins to connect the foundation, base and headstone together. Fuerstenberg said he doubts that the older marble stones have pins.

“It helps to keep it from getting knocked over,” he said. “Hopefully Mr. Stuber doesn’t have this issue again.”

Burial records didn’t indicate who paid for Stuber’s plot, and cemetery staff had no luck finding any family for the man.

Historians could find only a mention of Stuber in the 1900 census that indicated that he worked in the sulfite mill, which made pulp for paper. The document also said he was born in Switzerland, but could read write and speak English.

Despite knowing so little about the man buried underneath the stone, the community stepped up to make sure Stuber was remembered.

Vancouver Granite Works donated half the cost of the stone and community members covered the other half, funneling donations through the Friends of the Camas Cemetery.

“To me, it’s remarkable that people responded to someone they have no connection to,” said Eunice Abrahamsen, one of the founders of the Friends of the Camas Cemetery. “They just wanted the right thing to be done.”

She came out to the cemetery Friday morning to watch the installation.

“So many people care about this place because their family and loved ones are buried here and they respect that,” she said. “When it tugs at your heart, everyone pitches in.”