A cemetery in Iowa thinks a family’s final joke to a loved one is a grave mistake.
Steven “Stevie” Paul Owens died Sept. 2, 2021, “to go play Yahtzee in heaven with his mom,” according to his obituary. The lifelong Cubs and Steelers fan who “loved his conversation with a shot of Fireball” was buried in Warren-Powers Cemetery in Polk County.
Which was all well and good until Owens’ family decided to kick up the colorful language they used in his obit by adding some subtle profanity to his recently installed headstone, local news channel KCCI-TV reports.
One side of the headstone is perfectly innocent, containing a saying that Owens’ grandparents were fond of using: “If you don’t listen, you’ll have to feel.”
The other side, however, contains several strategically placed lines, the first letters of which spell out “fuck off.”
Owens’ family members said Owens would have loved the hidden message — and that he often used the phrase.
“It was definitely his term of endearment,” Owens’ daughter, Lindsay Owens Andrews, told KCCI. “If he didn’t like you, he didn’t speak to you. It’s just who he was.”
Owens’ son, Zachary Owens, told the television station that he and other family members even tried to coerce the phrase out of him at times.
“He’s easily riled up. It was always a goal of some sort to have him tell you to do this,” Zachary Owens said. Steven Owens’ survivors said he did not know about the inscription before his death, but that he’d find it amusing.
Unfortunately, Warren-Powers Cemetery and families of others who are buried at the grounds do not find the joke very funny.
The cemetery’s board of trustees told the Owens family and the maker of the headstone not to place it. But they did anyway.
In an emailed statement to local news station WHO, the board said that profanity is not allowed on monuments because “those others who have a place in the cemetery have the right of decency afforded to them.”
“They do not want nor do they appreciate the stone being in the cemetery,” the statement reads. “This community will not stop until they have the headstone removed.”
But the Owens family thinks everyone else should lighten up (and perhaps a shot of Fireball could help).
“No one’s forcing anyone to come out and look at it. That’s a choice that you make,” Zachary Owens told KCCI. “We didn’t do it to offend anyone or hurt anyone’s feelings. We did it because it was our father and we love him and that’s the way we remember him.”