Catoosa Students Raise Money For Classmate's Gravestone

Friday, January 7th 2011, 6:18 pm
By: News On 6

Dan Bewley, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- A Green Country graduating class has one final going away gift for a schoolmate who passed away three years ago.

Cody Berg died because of an irregular heartbeat in November 2007, but his friends in Catoosa say he's still in their hearts.

Deep in the Mayes County countryside is the Parkside Mennonite Cemetery, with headstones marking those at eternal rest. Tucked away in a corner, lies Cody Berg.

His grave site is surrounded by a makeshift memorial, inspirational stones cracking in the elements and a wooden cross where his name is fading away.

A tribute indeed, but one that seems should be so much more.

"I believe that it could be a little more updated," said Brandon Olmstead, a senior at Catoosa.

"I think there needs to be a gravestone there. I think it's appropriate," Cody Albright, another senior, said.

"I think that's the only thing that's missing," said Taylor Clingenpeel, Cody's classmate.

Cody Berg died after soccer practice three years ago. He was 14 years old.

"That year was really hard but, over time, it's just getting easier," Albright said.

His Catoosa High School classmates quickly named an award in Cody's honor. It goes to the athlete who best exhibits good sportsmanship.

But with his class set to graduate in May, the realization that a friend won't be there began to set in.

"It's been hard, definitely, especially this year because you realize you're graduating without a person in your class and they're not going to get to graduate," said Taylor Clingenpeel. "It's not like they moved schools, they're just here anymore at all."

They also noticed something else, or actually they noticed what was missing, a headstone for Cody's grave. So last month members of the National Honor Society began raising money to buy a gravestone.

In no time at all they had raised a thousand dollars at school, plus another $500 from Kelly Monument Company to go to a permanent memorial for their good friend.

"It means that he's not forgotten that our senior class had supported him and supported enough to raise enough money to get a gravestone," Olmstead said.

Cody's family now lives out of state but they tell us they're overwhelmed by what his classmates have done. His mother says getting a headstone was extremely important for her because it's the last gift she can give her son.

For now the soccer ball and pictures will have to do, but soon Cody will have a fitting tribute and graduation gift for eternity.

"It's going to be showing that it's time to move on, even though this headstone is always going to be there so the feelings are always going to be there but it's time to continue your life, I think," Clingenpeel said.

Cody's parents say they plan to have the headstone up and in place the week before graduation.