Hastings family distraught by cemetery thefts is now overwhelmed by support


In a week's time, a Hastings couple has gone from wondering how people can be so cruel to marveling at the love and support of their neighbors.

The community's reaction after Kris and Gary Rother told the story of a thief swiping flowers from their daughter's gravesite has left the couple overwhelmed, the Hastings Star Gazette reports.

First the backstory:

Abbey Rother died of viral pneumonia in August at the age of 30. Her obituary mentions that Abbey loved trips to the family cabin, enjoyed collecting T-shirts and bowling, and took part in Special Olympics.

She was buried in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish cemetery on the last day of August and her parents told the Star Gazette they've visited the site at least once every day since then.

So they noticed right away and were upset when someone stole a pot of chrysanthemums from the site. But when it happened again the very next day, they were more than upset. While Kris told the newspaper she was outraged, Gary told WCCO he was heartbroken.

Since a headstone for Abbey's grave had not yet arrived, the mums and a few keepsakes were all that was marking it, the family told WCCO. "It's like they stole something of Abbey's."

Now the new story:

Since word of the Rothers' sad story spread, Abbey's gravesite has been swarming with flowers, notes, and well-wishes from strangers. Kris Rother tells the Star Gazette it's a beautiful tribute that's hard to believe:

“I am speechless at the amount of love and support we’ve had. We just feel that they have even kept a part of our Abbey alive. The love is so there."

As one of the notes of support put it, "If flowers can be taken, they can also be given."

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