Our Northwest

Grave-digging boxer known for his gentle side

Tuesday, February 23, 2016by  Jon Osterberg

The Ellensburg Daily Record recently profiled a 78-year-old known for his kindness in helping others, and for working an uncommon trade for a man his age – grave digger.
     He digs by hand, with pick and shovel.
     It’s ironic that this friendly fellow who works in cemeteries shares the name of a famous horror-movie director: Wesley Craven.
     But unlike the deceased director, this Wes Craven is very much alive, serving as Roslyn’s official grave digger for more than 20 years.
     Craven started his tenure after retiring from construction and moving back home from the Seattle area, where he gained notoriety as a two-time Golden Gloves boxing champ in the 1960s.
     I benefited from Craven’s kindness 10 years ago this summer. While building a rockery at our cabin, I needed something to nudge big boulders into place, so I drove to Harper Lumber in Roslyn and asked if they sold a tool for the job.
     A sturdy, graying African American man standing nearby said, “What you need is a pry bar. I’ve got one outside in my truck.”
     We walked outside and sure enough, there lay a huge pry bar spanning the bed of his pickup. He handed it to me and said to return it to the lumber store when I was through.
     “They all know me here. My name’s Wes Craven,” he said, extending his big calloused hand.
     Craven didn’t know me, but he was happy to help a total stranger. I thanked him and took his pry bar, which made easy work of my granite boulders.
     Read the Daily Record story.

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