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Cemetery gravestones going to cyberspace



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Roy Langolf, owner/manager of Coats village Funeral Home with a MonuMark QR code attached to a gravestone. (click for larger version)
October 31, 2012 - Gravestones tell a story of the deceased.

Birth and death dates, prayers and pictures are often etched in stone as a lasting tribute to the departed's life.

Grand Rapids based MonuMark is trying to make memorials more meaningful for a younger generation that embraces technology and a growing number of family members that are often scattered geographically.

To contend with the needed changes gravestones are leaving the cemetery and moving to cyberspace.

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Comstock Park-based Patten Monument Company is attaching small aluminum tags to gravestones. Visitors to the monument can use their smartphone to scan the Quick Response, or QR codes. The codes then take the graveside visitor to a system of memorial websites, Monumark.com, which contains information about the individual on the memorial. The information on the website contains photos, biographies and stories of the individual. In addition, visitors to the gravestone can type a message and by recording the exact GPS location of the monument, others will continue to be able to visit.

"For the 70- and 80-year-old group the Monumark does not mean that much, but for the younger group it's important," said Roy Langolf, owner and manager of Coats Village Funeral Home, 135 South St., Ortonville. "The old markers told a story. They just don't do that anymore for a variety of reasons. With MonuMark, it's a virtual monument, especially in a small community where many know each other personally."

Langolf said the MonuMark tag could be applied to existing headstones for $55 for five years of service.

"It could also be applied to historical memorials, like the Old Mill in Ortonville or VFW memorials," he said. "There's hundreds of stories out there of a generation that lived through World Wars, the Crash of 1929 and may soon be forgotten. It was a very humble generation that all too often never spoke of their contributions to society."

In addition, many individuals are opting for cremation with remains placed in an outdoor columbarium niche in a cemetery, he said.

"The MonuMark can be attached to the columbarium marker, too," added Langolf, who has two families that purchased the service.

"It's kind of like a Facebook for gravestones," he said. "There's a lot of potential for families to remember loved ones and interact with visitors to their monuments."

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