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Funeral home offers replacement bench to St. Paul Park woman after memorial bench stolen from husband's gravesite

Excuse me, is this seat taken?

Marilyn Krenik of St. Paul Park was stunned to learn June 6 that someone had stolen an  engraved memorial bench from the gravesite of her husband, Joseph Krenik. Her granddaughter discovered the theft during a visit to the family plot at the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church Cemetery.

“She went home and said, ‘Grandma, there’s no bench there,’" Krenik told the Bulletin last week. “I just couldn’t believe it."

But after the Bulletin story ran, the owner of an east-metro mortuary company announced that he would give Krenik a new bench, free of charge.

Scott Mueller, president of Mueller Memorial Funeral and Cremation Services in White Bear Lake, made the offer last Wednesday to Marilyn Krenik when she was a guest on the John Williams radio show on WCCO-830. After Krenik told her story on the air,  Williams sprung a surprise.

“He said, ‘Hold on a minute. I want my friend Scott Mueller to come in on the conversation,'" she said. "He said they would like to donate a bench."

The original bench was a Mother’s Day present to Krenik from her daughter and son-in-law, Michelle and Gary Winter.

Others offered help as well. St. Paul Park Mayor Keith Franke said he had discussed donating a bench to the family with at least one member of the city council. He also considered offering a reward through his Park Cafe restaurant.

“We had heard the next day that Mueller had stepped up to the plate,” Franke said. “That’s just awesome. Kudos to them.”

Krenik said she received assurances that this bench will be anchored to the ground to thwart potential thieves.

“It blew my mind,” she said of the gesture. “There are some good people out there, too.”

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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