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Tarwater constructs coffins for cowboys

Feb 7, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Carpenter says he uses local materials to make simple, wooden boxes for burial.

When John Tarwater started looking for a new way to supplement his income, he wanted to come up with a product that had wide appeal.

That's how he eventually settled on coffin-making.

"It's something everyone's going to need," Tarwater said. "And my generation, baby boomers, being the biggest generation, I think there will be more of a demand for this than there would have been 20 years ago."

The 64-year-old also has observed a growing movement toward "green" burials, which are more environmentally friendly and have less of an effect on mourners' pocketbooks. Tarwater said he'll make his simple, wooden coffins using local materials.

"It's considered more natural than your modern-day plastic or fiber or metal coffin," he said. "And it's inexpensive."

Tarwater offers two types of coffins so far, made of either smooth pine or rough pine. But he can work with oak or cedar too, and Tarwater said he is open to custom orders that come in advance.

"A certain number of people want a bit of involvement in (making the coffin)," Tarwater said. "In cases where they have enough lead time they can do painting or stenciling that can help them be involved."

He has had only one customer in Fremont County since moving here, but Tarwater hopes his business will appeal to local sensibilities. He named the operation "Coffins for Cowboys and Indians" in honor of his recent move to Riverton with his wife, who grew up in the region.

"It seemed to fit this area," Tarwater said.

For more information, visit or call 463-0554.

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