For a long time, locals and residents from Richmond, California were in for a treat whenever they went to visit the Hilltop neighborhood. An elaborate memorial had been created on an abandoned property owned by Chevron, the oil giant. Locals were mesmerized by it but also couldn’t decide where the mystery had come from. Who created the memorial? They didn’t know. The display was ostentatious as it included angels, flowers and solar panels to power it all up. Locals didn’t know who had been lost or who had spent hours upon hours creating the amazing memorial. Eventually the president of the Hilltop District Neighborhood Council, Cesar Zepeda, wanted to figure out the mystery. As he told NBC, “All we knew was that it belonged to someone who was very much loved.”
The community had determined that the abandoned property that was owned by Chevron could not be left to rot. It needed to be maintained. But no one knew what to do about the memorial. Should they just bulldoze it and erase it? Or should they try to find its creator and let them know about the change.
Because they had a conscience, the people of the town posted a note asking the individual who created the memorial to reach out so it could be addressed.
Chevron’s sign read, “For those individuals who are maintaining this memorial, Chevron asks that you contact the refinery at [phone number]. Thank you for your help!”
Eventually the curator of the memorial came forward. He was a man who had dedicated himself to his family. He wanted the memorial to be special. His name was Roy Olsen.
His son, who was also named Ray, had died at the hands of a drunk driver. Losing his boy left Olsen with a hole in his heart that could never be filled again. The only thing he knew to do was to make a memorial to the boy and make it special.
Olsen hadn’t wanted to come forward because he feared that the corporate oil company wouldn’t care about his emotional memorial and simply erase it from existence. He tended to the memorial only at night so he wouldn’t be seen by anyone.
When Chevron put out the notice, Olsen decided that his jig was up. He couldn’t keep hiding. He found the courage to come forward. And when he did, he got some surprising results.
After Chevron and the Hilltop District Neighborhood Council heard about Olsen’s tragedy, they decided to surprise the honorable man.
Instead of ripping down his son’s memorial, Chevron presented Olsen with a special memento. They set up a beautiful memorial along with a new bench all in honor of Olsen’s son who was killed by a thoughtless drunk driver.
Joe Lorenz of Chevron told NBC News about how they decided to honor Roy Olsen’s son.
“That’s Ray’s bench. We said, ‘This is your spot, Ray. You no longer have to come at night,’” Lorenz said.
Olsen was surprise. “I never even though to dream of something like this,” he said.
Cesar Zepado was happy they could help the father out. He told NBC News:
“Knowing that you’ve given life and hope to a father and knowing that you have made somebody’s life better— it’s an amazing, amazing feeling to have.”