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Percival Shank LeCoste

Percival Shank LeCoste of Denver, Colorado, died this week when he lost control of his lawnmower, outfitted with front-end skis in place of wheels, and tumbled end over end down Petty Rike Hill, south of Denver. Mr. LeCoste, was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. He was 47 years old.

“He was passionate about his riding lawnmower,” said his wife, Lydia LeCoste. “Even in the winter he rode it up and down the street with snow chains.”

Neighbors often saw LeCoste riding through the neighborhood, snow and all. He had outfitted the mower with chains on the back wheels and skis on the front. neighbors took exception to lecoste riding through their yards.

Some of those same neighbors took exception to LeCoste’s winter mower touring.

Said one neighbor, “I’d confronted him last month about riding through our yard. He said he could not do this kind of thing on the street since there was no snow. When I told him that wasn’t my problem and I didn’t want him running across the flowerbeds, he rolled his eyes and did a lap around my tree then took off, I guess as much taking off as you can do at six miles an hour. My only regret is that I didn’t throw that rock at him.”

But not all in Denver are critical of Mr. LeCoste. Some, like local mortician Angst Engstrom, see LeCoste’s death as a boon for the funeral business.

Engstrom first met LeCoste two years ago when LeCoste arrived unnanounced at Engstrom’s funeral parlor to make arrangements for his funeral.

as LeCoste laid out his plans, Engstrom says that a bulb went on in his own head.

According to LeCoste’s will, he wishes to be buried seated on top of his mower. The catch? He wants to be sitting on his mower at the wake, hands on the wheel, his eyes open, and transported graveside while still on the mower, which will be pulled on a trailer behind the hearse.

“It really was a unique opportunity,” says Engstrom. “I took to it right away.”

For Engstrom, LeCoste represents a unique imbalming opportunity that has made the 53 year old mortician the envy of several other Denver-based morticians.

Engstrom says he had “been hoping for a kind of resurgence of human taxidermy. Casket funerals in traditional poses, such as lying down, are played out. imagine a funeral where the deceased is sitting in his favorite recliner with a tv remote control in his hand watching football. you could sit down next to him and watch the game with him, talk about things. Will he say anything back? That’s part of the mystery and the beauty.”

For Engstrom, Mr. LeCoste stands—or sits, as it were—at the vanguard of a bold new era in the funerary business. Says Engstrom, “We need more folks like him who have a vision for post-mortem positioning.”

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