People making their own coffin isn’t new to us here at OC. But the story of Fred Guentert sure is. Because he’s been building himself a coffin that’s fit for an Egyptian pharaoh – for the past 25 years.
Guentert, who is now 89 years old, has kept himself occupied for about a quarter of a century with his unusual hobby. And he sure does have something to show for it. The coffin he is to be buried in someday is 7 feet long and weighs 300 pounds. It is made of cedar and hand-painted in royal colors like gold, red, green and black. A hand-carved image of the Egyptian god Osiris adorns the lid. Near the base, you can see a colorful image of Isis. The interior has been decorated with a full-size painting of Nut – the sky goddess. On one side of the box is the Eye of Horus, looking on intently.
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Needless to say, Guentert has harbored a lifelong passion for all things Egyptian. The year of his birth, 1922, coincides with the year that King Tutankhamen’s tomb was discovered. Guentert has a huge collection of Egyptian memorabilia which are all displayed in a back room of his house. 10 years ago, he even visited Egypt, and his collection includes several books on the history and culture of ancient Egypt. So it’s only natural that Guentert wanted the passion that started with his birth, to be remembered after his death as well. Having had no previous experience with woodwork, he taught himself the basics of the craft. After a great deal of meticulous planning, he created the masterpiece coffin using chisels, sandpaper and files. The box is held together by dowels and glue. To make sure the coffin fits, he has been crazy enough to actually lie down in it a few times. But he makes sure his wife isn’t around when he does that, because that would just freak her out.
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Joyce, Guentert’s 73-year-old wife, doesn’t share his passion for Egypt. But the coffin doesn’t bother her one bit. In fact, she likes that it keeps him busy and out of her way at times. She actually asks him to go work on the box when she feels he’s being too difficult.
Gunetert has laid out other plans for his funeral as well, apart from just the elaborate coffin. His wish is that his body be wrapped in a shroud and embalmed, before being placed in the box he built. His face is to be covered with a fiberglass mask of the god of afterlife, Osiris. He doesn’t want a viewing or a traditional funeral, so the coffin will be locked tight with wooden dowels once the body goes in. Guentert has just one last condition – “Make sure I’m dead.”
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