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Dr. Lepird takes on another project

By Staff | Aug 22, 2009

Dr. Lepird with infant caskets he has made. Contributed photo

If there were more people like Dr. Richard Lepird of Estherville, my how the world would be so much better.

Dr. Lepird could easily be regarded as a renaissance philanthropist and humanitarian – a man with so many interests, all geared toward helping others, that it’s hard to say he’s known for any one thing.

Known internationally for developing the Lepird procedure – a corrective surgery for clubfoot, a master at raising draft horses and a volunteer who has donated countless thousands of dollars of free medical service to the Flying Doctors of Mercy – Dr. Lepird told Estherville Rotarians Thursday about yet another of his talents and passions.

Dr. Lepird talked about his experiences with the Precious Angels program. A master woodworker, he volunteers his time making wooden caskets for stillborn infants and young children who die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other causes. He also makes stained glass casket crosses that family members can retain as a memorial of their lost child.

Founded by Vicki Dischner of Centerville who went through a similar experience, Precious Angels benefits from members of the Des Moines Woodworkers Association who donate their time making the wooden caskets for families who previously would have received their infant’s remains in a cardboard box. Dischner continues to be deeply involved with the project, making infant burial clothing and casket linings from used wedding gowns and prom dresses.

Dr. Lepird explained that babies don’t have the proper anatomy for embalming, so they have to be buried in a short time. That means the caskets have to be overnighted.

A total of 150-200 infant caskets are shipped every year throughout Iowa.

“I think that this is a project that’s well worthwhile,” Dr. Lepird said.

Money is needed to pay shipping costs for the caskets. A range of giving options are available for the Precious Angels program. They include:

n $1,000 Angel.

n $500 A Compassionate Friend.

n $250 A Friend of the Mother.

n $100 A Loving Friend.

n $50 One Who Cares.

n $25 A Good Samaritan.

Donations may be sent to: Vicki Dischner, Precious Angels, 22719 550th St., Centerville, IA 52544.