Daughter gets wrong cremated remains, files suit

Ronald Roark was 75 when he died in January 2016

An undated photo of Ronald Roark, who died in January 2016 (Courtesy photo)
An undated photo of Ronald Roark, who died in January 2016 (Courtesy photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Kimberly Grecco said her father, Ronald Roark, taught her strength and kindness and meant the world to her. In January 2016, her 75-year-old father died in hospice after battling liver disease.

“His family was everything. He retired and stayed in the area just to assure the kids, the grandkids and great-grandchildren were all taken care of,” Grecco told KOIN 6 News. “He was just the best. He was an incredible man.”

The grieving family had him cremated at Cascade Cremation Center in Tualatin, owned and operated by Cascade Funeral Directors, Incorporated. That February, Grecco received what she thought was a box with her dad’s cremains. She kept the unopened box on her dresser.

The mislabled cremains of Ronald Roark, who died in 2016 (Courtesy)
The mislabled cremains of Ronald Roark, who died in 2016 (Courtesy)

“I just put the box there because I wasn’t ready to process. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through,” Grecco told KOIN 6 News.

Four months later, on Father’s Day 2016, she opened the box, ready to take her father’s ashes to the Oregon coast.

“The first thing I saw was the toe tag that goes on the body,” she said. “It was another name. It was not my father’s name.”

Grecco was horrified.

“It’s still unbelievable that this could happen to me, to my daddy,” she said. “It’s still surreal even now.”

Kimberly Grecco holds a picture of her father, who died in January 2016. She is suing the cremation company, August 22, 2017 (KOIN)
Kimberly Grecco holds a picture of her father, who died in January 2016. She is suing the cremation company, August 22, 2017 (KOIN)

The Oregon Mortuary Board investigated the case and in March 2017 issued a reprimand to the company. They said an employee’s labeling error resulted in 2 families getting the wrong cremains.

“The son (of the other family) had spread half of the ashes on the Long Beach peninsula and the other half was encased in another man’s grave, had to be exhumed,” she said.

While she is grateful to have what’s left of her father back, Grecco filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against the cremation company for negligence and for justice for her father.

She wants “accountability to assure that this never happens to anyone else again. Nobody should have to live through this.”

What’s not clear is why the other family wasn’t alarmed or didn’t question the cremains they had. Grecco’s attorney said that is one of the issue that will be brought up during the discovery phase of the case. Attorney Michael Fuller said the defendants have a month to respond and a trial date may be set for sometime next year.

An official with the Cascade Funeral Directors Incorporated told KOIN 6 News they have not seen the lawsuit and don’t have a comment at this time.

“Something has to change,” Grecco said. She hopes the “underlying issue” will be fixed so no one goes through what she and her family did.