William Dean Ladd II

Eternal Reef Memorial

Casting at Sarasota, FL - January 28, 2006


Christopher Anthony Jones' saltwater tank with reef.  (Photo by Christopher A. Jones)

"I really don't know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it's because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it's because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea -- whether it is to sail or to watch it -- we are going back from whence we came."

- President John F. Kennedy, from his speech, "The Sea," delivered at the America Cup races in Newport, RI, September of 1962.

Some many years ago, I had heard talk of a company which made artificial reefs.  Coral reefs are in decline, and the company constructed artificial reefs which offer habitat to a plethora of marine life.  Not unusual, by any means, but then the person told me that an Atlanta-based company, Eternal Reefs, made Reef Memorials for loved ones who had transitioned.  The ashes of the person are integrated with concrete and poured into a mold which makes the artificial reef in their honor.  A plaque is put on the finished reef so that anyone diving down to see it can easily identify the Memorial of their loved one.  Though it has been eight months since Bj's death, the Eternal Reef company constructs such reefs only on specific dates, as permits much be obtained to place the reefs in the sea.  The reefs are then taken a few miles offshore and placed in the ocean.  We are delighted to have found such a fitting tribute for our avid sailor and scuba diving son, who loved the seas and its marine life so very, very much.

Bill holds his son's plaque that will be adhered to the finished Eternal Reef Memorial.

Father and Son.

Bill casts his shadow on Bj's eternal reef mold.

Eternal Reefs has a wonderful staff and lots of volunteers, many of which have gone through this process of making eternal reefs for ones they love.  There were many other families there making reefs as well.  Though we didn't speak too much as we worked, you could feel the love and compassion we all had for one another.  Not one person there was actually a stranger at all.  We all were on the very same mission.  What a wonderful internal bond.

It all truly was a wonderful experience, one of combined efforts of love, compassion, and great care.


Bill lovingly adds the ashes of our beloved Bj.  We have kept some of Bj's ashes for casting out to sea when Bj's Memorial Reef is dedicated later this month.  This way, we can all someday touch our toes in the sea... and forever be touched by our beloved "Beej."  {I just got a note from Jane who came to this page and she wrote to me that there is another similarity between Bj and Cj: They call Christopher "Ceej." Incredible.

It just illustrates how perfectly "right" this all is for all our families.

Below, the ashes mixture is integrated with concrete as is it pours into Bj's Eternal Reef mold.

I'm smoothing out the top of what will be Bj's Memorial Reef.  It was a very rough surface after being poured.  As Bj's parents, Bill and I decided we wanted to write in the concrete and have it be as legible as possible.  To facilitate that, the surface would have to be smoothed out a lot... We were given a little plastic trowel (of sorts) but it was hard to work with in such a confined space.  Jane and Tracy had a cuticle stick and were so very kind to allow me the use of it.  Oh it worked so much better!  Thank you, thank you, my dears Jane and Tracy!  All in all, the finished product is not too bad... guess all those years of helping my Dad lay concrete came back to assist me (smiles).  It was a very tiny space and quite difficult to get moving room for your hands while working inside the mold.  But it seemed to work out beautifully.

The top surface of Bj's Eternal Reef Memorial.  Bill and I decided to add two seashells.  The left one representing Bill (who is left-handed {as is Bj and Breighan, our grandchildren Will and Diana, and their mothers (Melissa and Rebecca); all are lefties!}).  The right shell (which reminded us both of a pelvis or womb) we thought it perfect to symbolize me.  We then pressed our thumbs (Bill's left thumb and my right thumb) into the concrete, placing our thumbprints beneath our respective shells.  Bj's sister Breighan's name is written across the top.  For Bj's children, William Dean Ladd III (7 years old) and Diana Jean Lienemann (6 years old), I had just enough room there to write both their first names.  I only wish I had thought of doing this long ago, and I could have plaques made of their full names to embed in the casting.  However, on second thought, as the grandchildren are older and see their names written there along with their father, it could very well appear to them that they wrote their names in it themselves.

Bj's sister, Breighan, and his two children were not able to be there for the casting, but they will be in attendance at the Dedication and placement of Bj's Memorial Reef, to be held February 22-23, 2006 in Ft. Lauderdale.  The grandbabies' mothers will be there too.  We are all so happy we'll be together for the Dedication.  The 22nd is the viewing of the finished reef, and on the 23rd we'll all board a vessel and take the reef offshore for placement.  We will have GPS coordinates of its exact position so anyone can come and see Bj's final resting place.  It doesn't take very long before the reef is thriving with inhabitants.  Even in death there can yet be life.

I took this picture while sailing.  Families are flocks.

Chuck of Eternal Reefs.  Chuck is just wonderful.  He and I hit it off right off the bat... he was wearing Maui Jim sunglasses identical to mine.  You could easily tell that all the staff and volunteers of Eternal Reefs were there to truly help us honor those we love and lost.  They made sure to go around and talk with each of us and find out just why we had chosen this way to memorialize those we love.  I'm sure the stories they heard did their hearts proud as to what they offer for we who need exactly that.

The woman in the foreground was a most valuable asset to this effort.  She had done the same for her husband a year ago.  Now she was there to lend us her helping hands.  A beautiful woman who said she felt so good knowing that "When I touch my toe in the ocean... my husband is with me."  I'm hoping to get her name and add it here, as I truly will forever have fond memories of her.

Two delightful and beautiful young women, sisters Tracy and Jane Copeland.  They were there to construct a memorial reef for Jane's fiancé, Christopher A. Jones, who tragically died of leukemia at age 36.  Christopher was called "Chrissy" by his family, and as you can see by the hats they wear, they paid tribute to his memory.  It made me so sad to see these two young women going through this, just as our daughter, Breighan with the loss of her brother, Bj.  I had hoped they had lost someone older (perhaps a grandparent), but when I got to speak with Tracy, she told me of their tragic and premature loss of Christopher, and that her sister Jane was Christopher's fiancée.  The greatest thing Tracy told me was that the Eternal Reef Memorial was Christopher's idea.  He had discovered it and had decided it was exactly what he wanted to be carried out after his passing.  Christopher, shortly before his transition, reconfirmed with his fiancée Jane, that an Eternal Reef Memorial is exactly what he wanted.  It made us know even moreso, that it too is exactly what our Bj would want for himself.  I'm so grateful that Christopher's wishes were shared with us.

Bill and I both immediately felt a kindred spirit in Tracy and Jane.  We told them about our website and most fortunately they both went there and now we've corresponded back and forth with one another ever since.  In our correspondence, the similarities between "CJ" (Jane's nickname for Christopher) and "Bj" (initials for Bill Junior, but written as a name - upper and lower case) are remarkable.  I've also discovered that Christopher's birth date is just one day after our daughter Breighan's.  Bj and CJ were both avid Star Wars fans and both had original collectibles -- CJ's favorite quote: "Let the Force be with You" is so very much like our Bj's favorite quote: "Use the Force for Good.  Evil and Hatred leads to the Dark Side."  Bj used to say it exactly like Yoda.  I'm sure many will think perhaps this all not so remarkable... but trust me, it is when it happens to you!  Jane wrote me about the cat she and CJ had together, named "Koot."  Instantly, I was reminded that our daughter, Breighan named her car "Kooter," often shortened to "Koot."  May seem simply a coincidence... but it sure doesn't seem that way to me.

We also met Chris' father, Bradley Jones:

HI Charmaine & Bill:
Thank you for your email and such nice comments about Jane and Tracy who are both wonderful people. We all look forward to seeing you in Feb.   Your comment about crying is so true. It means a great deal to have someone to cry with it is a cleansing experience and one that I am sure will continue for a very long time.


Your tribute to BJ is really moving your son loved all the same things that Chris did and your son seemed to really love the ocean and the creatures in it. For me the randomness of these events is what I deal with every day. There is a book "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" by Harold S Kushner which examines this issue and others which I found helpful.


Your offer to dedicate one of your sunset pictures is so nice and we are all excited about it. For 30 years I have been traveling to the Cayman Islands and I spent three years in the islands and grew to love the wonder of the sunsets which you have captured on your website.  I am sure that being on the water and seeing God's wonders you must feel very close to your son and that is very meaningful.

Christopher Anthony Jones was born on Dec 3rd, 1969 in Montreal and passed away Dec 29th, 2005 he was 36. We will carefully study the sunsets and make our selection.  Thank you for your kindness and understanding and to you and Bill my sincere sympathies on the loss of your

wonderful son.


L Jones, c.a.
Chairman, President & CFO
Stealth Minerals Limited
Cascadero Copper Corporation
Argentine Frontier Resources Inc.


--- Charmaine <charmaine@septembersea.com> wrote:
> Hello there, Bradley
> Thank you so much for your kind words.  Meeting Jane
> and Tracy was just
> delightful.  Tracy had come out away from the main
> area where people were,
> and I was standing out there as she came nearby.
> She was standing in the
> sun... I hollered over to her that it was shady
> where I was.
> As Tracy walked over to me I could see she was such
> a lovely young lady.
> She reminds me much of our daughter, Breighan, who
> just turned twenty-two.
> As I looked at her, I thought to myself, so terrible
> death is.  I turn fifty
> years old this month and losing our son has been so
> very hard on us all, but
> especially those far younger than my years... it is
> heartbreaking to watch
> these youngsters as they endure such pain.
> I asked her who she was there for and she told me
> about Chris.  It really
> did my heart so much good to hear her tell me of
> what your son's wishes were
> for his Memorial.  Knowing that Bj would feel the
> same way, I immediately
> felt a kindred spirit in Tracy.  We embraced as the
> tears fell from her eyes
> .. we both were crying.  Who would know what a joy
> crying can be when shared
> by someone who knows of the same pain.
> My heart goes out to you, Bradley.  So sorry for the
> loss of your son.  You
> too know what exactly how I feel, of that I am
> certain.  Jane is a wonderful
> person, I can only look upon her and have a feeling
> as to what your son
> Chris was like.  He must have been an incredibly
> special individual.  She
> walks with her head high, as she has lost much, yet
> it is evident that her
> beloved memories of Chris keep her going strong.
> My husband and I look forward to meeting you in
> February.  It will be so
> good to see the girls again.  I promise you a great
> big hug, Bradley.  We've
> got much to be thankful for, in spite of our great
> losses... and somehow I
> already feel you already know of that of which I
> speak.  We haven't lost our
> minds, Bradley.  We have endured probably the
> greatest pain ever felt by any
> parent.  Each day that passes is one day again to
> make peace with ourselves
> as we would have given our life to ensure our
> children will live on.
> But it was not to be.
> I'd like to dedicate one of my "Sunrise to Sunset"
> pictures to your son.  If
> you'll kindly give me his full name and dates of
> birth and transition, I
> would love to do it.  Let me know which picture in
> the gallery your son
> would have loved most, and it will be my true
> pleasure to dedicate it to his
> memory.
> Please feel free to write me anytime, Bradley.
> Thank you so much for making
> contact and sharing such wonderful thoughts.
> Take care.
> Much Love,
> Charmaine (& Bill) Aboard s/v September Sea
> "Life's a Gift... Unwrap It!" - C~
> www.SeptemberSea.com


Tracy talks with one of the many Eternal Reef volunteers. 

Sweet Jane lovingly carries her fiancé CJ's ashes.  Such a tender young woman who has lost so much, yet she held up beautifully on that day.  It truly amazed me that it had only been a month since her fiancé's transition.  Jane told me they were very fortunate to be able to be a part of this particular casting date, as they were just in time to be included.  How fortunate we all are that CJ and Bj are together, two young men who were so very, very much alike in their earthly lives.  Two young men so loved.  Yes.  Sometimes things do happen for a reason.  I know in my heart that it was meant for us to have Jane and Tracy in our lives.  Just as it was meant for CJ and Bj to be at one with the sea, together. 

Christopher's father, Bradley contacted me through our website.  His words were so kind and so loving, he was so thankful that Jane and Tracy met Bill and I there.  He was very sympathetic and offered condolences.  Of course I immediately wrote him back and all the love in the world was once again found from us to another, in an instant.  What a wonderful, loving man Brad is.  I cannot help but know that his son, Christopher, must have been very much like his father. 

We have much in common with the Copeland and Jones families.  Yes, indeed we do.  Now we all have one another to lean on and to help us as we continue with our earthly lives without having one we loved so dearly at our side.  I feel Bj in everything I see and everything I do -- but the realization is that he is not here in the flesh anymore to hold me and tell me, "Mah, I love you."  I am sure it is quite the same for everyone who loved Bj; and quite undoubtedly for everyone who loved CJ.  Jane wrote me again and told me of another coincidence: that "Mah" is what CJ called her mother. 

Here I am in the middle of those two sweet and wonderful young ladies:  My newest sisters, Tracy and Jane.  We are so excited about being with them again for the dedication of our respective memorials to Bj and CJ.  The girls reminded Bill and I so much of our daughter Breighan.  We are so looking forward to our families being together and getting to know one another.  What a blessing meeting them has been.  Life truly holds more blessings than we can count... we just have to be able to recognize them when they appear.  Jane and Tracy, how very, very much we truly love you both.  Bradley, I can hardly wait to hold you in my arms and embrace you with hug after hug after hug.

A sunset from the Sunrise to Sunset Gallery has been dedicated to the memory of Christopher Anthony Jones (December 3, 1969 - December 29, 2005).  Chris' father, Bradley, and Chris' betrothed, Jane, decided upon "Double Rainbow Delight."  So very happy am I that Bradley and Jane have embraced the proposal to honor their beloved Chrissy with a sunset dedication.  I sincerely feel it is a most fitting tribute to have their "CJ" right there in the Gallery along with our "Bj."  Once again, these two young men will be together... Once again, both their families come together as one... and forever will be.

Viewing of the Reef - Ft. Lauderdale, FL

February 22nd 2006

(Click on thumbnail pictures to enlarge.)


The final product.  Bj's Memorial Reef.  Bittersweet. 

Choklate Papa helps Diana make a rubbing of her father's

Memorial Reef plaque, as Diana's mother Rebecca watches. 

Bj's son, William with his mother, Melissa.


Bj's daughter Diana with her mother, Rebecca.


William Dean Ladd III sits proudly on his father's Memorial Reef.


Two of the Guys of Eternal Reefs who make it all happen.

Dedication offshore Ft. Lauderdale, FL

25° 57.755' N - 80° 05.875' W

February 23rd 2006

Bj's sister Breighan feels the weight of it all.  Her Sweetheart, Ryan Carter, at her side.  Ryan takes exceptionally great care of our daughter.  Bill and I are both so very happy Breighan has found a young man who is so wonderfully thoughtful and kind.  Bj's son, Will (7 years old), gave Breighan the 3rd Degree over the telephone about Ryan when he found out he was going to meet him soon: "Well, is he good to you?"  She replies, "Yes, Dad."  Will laughs.  When Will finally met Ryan, he waited a couple of days and then told Ryan, "You are with Auntie Bei now... so Aunti Bei is my family.  That means you are a member of this family now."  We all howled.  I'm sure Ryan was like, "Dang!"  LOL  Out of the mouths of babes, I tell you.  Somehow I think Bj had something to do with all that.  One can never lose their sense of humor.  If you do lose it... you may as well chuck it all in now.  LIVE, LOVE, LAUGH.




Above, Melissa and Rebecca with their kids to the right.  Will and Diana were just perfect on this excursion.  Neither one complained and attentively watched everything as it happened.  There were twelve individual Memorial Reefs dedicated that day.  We waited as it came time to put Bj's Memorial Reef into place.  We were all thrilled, Bj's family as well as Christopher's family, that Bj and Cj will be side by side in the configuration of the individual memorial reefs.  I am sure they both are getting acquainted and making plans as I sit here typing this.  What a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Below, the family of Christopher A. Jones (Cj) watches as "Chrissy's" Memorial Reef is put into place.  How my heart aches for this wonderful family and Chrissy's intended, Jane.  Jane and Tracy are doing very well, I'm very happy to say.  What strong young women these lovelies are.  I'm very, very proud of them.  We got to meet the girls' parents (mom is Irish and dad is Scottish)... and I could have talked with them for days just to hear their song of accents).  We also met Christopher's two sisters.  Below, Chrissy's youngest sister Allie (What a sweetheart!  She and I hugged over and over again.) with her and Christopher's father, Bradley.  We could not have been with better people with which to share this extraordinary, yet bittersweet, experience.  Bradley generously brought with him hats made for Will and Diana embroidered with "Bj" on them.  What a wonderfully kind and most thoughtful gesture.  Thank you again, Sweet Brad.  Hang in there, my Sweethearts, everyone and everything is going to be just fine.



Choklate Grandma stands with Bj's son and namesake, William Dean Ladd III.


Bj's Memorial Reef is being put into place.



Flowers are cast for Bj as Eternal Reef's George informs us that the divers below have put Bj's Memorial Reef into place.  We all tossed our flowers out onto the sea.  It was done.  It was a very emotional dedication.  The finality of it all is a tearjerker, especially as George read off the John F. Kennedy quote from "The Sea," which I've always loved so much and had already used here at our website.  Gave me chills we picked the same quote.  It just attests to how appropriate the quote really is for a Memorial at sea.  Later, after another Dedication was read for all twelve reefs, the boat horn blew twelve times, while each family had a miniature reef, while we each decorated with flowers, to toss in to the sea as well.

What I loved most of this unconventional way of paying tribute to one's who have gone before us, is that we shared it with the most wonderful people, all who also have lost.  Our family is even bigger now after this experience.  I will never forget those I met who touched my heart and who I genuinely felt so much compassion and sadness.  It is they who made the experience so memorable.  We are not alone in our grief, as loved ones transition each and every minute of every day... remember that when you feel you are alone in your sorrow.  We are never alone; as from the bonds made here comes the realization that we are together, forever... just as our loved ones are.  Together.  Forever.

One last kiss from Mommy to our Beloved Son.


Even in death there brings forth new life.

Sleep well, our beloved Bj.

You now are where you always wanted to be:

"In harmony, and at one with the sea."

Bj's Memorial Reef location:

25° 57.755' N - 80° 05.875' W