...When Davo was a boy growing up in Rotorua, New Zealand, he always wanted to have his own Go Kart. But his childhood dream of zipping around a track in his miniature racing car, and maybe one day becoming a world-famous Formula 1 driver, was never realized. However, if Davo couldn’t have a Go Kart in life, he decided he would have one in death, and he was in the right town to make it happen.
At barely forty years old, with two young daughters, the professional chef was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Davo’s coffin, painted in camouflage, had four wheels with black tires and silver hubcaps, an intricately carved grill, a steering wheel, a vanity license plate with his name in all caps, and the number 43 emblazoned on either side.
Katie Williams, 76, the white-haired, motherly founder of “the Coffin Club,” a non-profit organization that helps members design and construct their own coffins, recounts the story of Davo – of whom Williams requested that only his first name be used – with tenderness and modest satisfaction. He was, after all, one of the first and youngest members in the history of the club, and his casket is still among one of the collective’s most elaborate creations.
“He drew up exactly what he wanted,” Williams says. “Then a few of us got together and made it for him since his condition was deteriorating. We were all very pleased with the result. It looked incredible.”
Another Coffin Club favorite is Wes Hayward’s casket. The former trolley car driver rolled in a replica streetcar down the hill from his funeral service to a waiting hearse. “It was wonderful,” Williams recalls. “I just wished we’d also had a little bell and rung it.”
The Coffin Club was founded in 2010, a few years after Williams told a meeting of fellow students at the University of the Third Age – a global organization that offers study programs for seniors – that she wanted to build her own coffin. “God knows why I got up and did that,” she says, chuckling. “But when the meeting finished there were all these people lining up to talk to me. So I realized it wasn’t such a spooky idea; it was a sensible one.”Franklin Graham, the corporate religion mogul, bought inmate-coffins for both his parents at the Lousiana State Prison in Angola.
Being Franklin Graham, he issued a press release about it. His father, the by-comparison universally-respected Rev. Billy Graham, continues to show no interest in his son's premature gift. He will turn 99 in November.