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River Don’s Body Held Hostage by Funeral Home

By   /   May 3, 2014  /   4 Comments

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Yucca Valley, Ca.,- We lost a true advocate for the homeless in our community on April 13, 2014.  River Don, whose real name is Don Frohriep,  lost  his battle with cancer.  Never saving a penny for himself, he donated his time, energy and income to provide a shelter for the homeless…and their pets. Running a tight ship with strict rules of no alcohol or drugs, River Don felt it was important that each individual was treated with dignity, kindness, respect and lot’s of hugs.  Oh yes, that also meant restoring one’s self esteem by working to generate a small personal income through recycling.

It came as a surprise to me I was contacted to contribute towards the expenses for his cremation because the tab was pegged at $1,700 dollars. This did not include his headstone, flowers or any other frills.  River Don served our country and would be laid to rest in Riverside with full military honors.  That is, after $1,700 was raised to release his body!  Additional pressure was placed on his family by the Funeral Home because they would start charging storage fees this Tuesday at an additional $100 per day!

I was informed his daughter flew in from out of state and wanted to see her father being held in cold storage before his body was cremated.  Guess what…they charged her $125 for that request!

Something just ain’t right about all of this! Please understand, I don’t intend to cause any negative vibes when we should celebrate River Don’s life and his contributions to our community to help the homeless…it just don’t seem right.

Thank you River Don, may you rest in Peace.


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About the author

Margo Sturges

Yucca Valley Editor

Note: Margo Sturges has written many articles for Cactus Thorns and is the founder of Citizens4Change.info. Email contact: MargoSturgesYV(at)aol.com "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."- George Orwell


  1. ironman ironman says:

    Having grown up in the funeral business, lived in one and my dad managed it. I know that they, at least the honest ones don’t make as much money as people think they do.
    That said, this unnamed funeral home would get a lot more favorable publicity if they refunded the $125 to the daughter and took a little hit themselves on the $1700 cost of cremation and burial.

    I thought, now that’s a good cause to contribute to, funeral expenses for this guy, but after reading the article it sounds like greedy b&%#!*)$ running that business and I’d rather stand out front with a protest sign than pay them!
    Shame the SOBs into helping!

  2. Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

    Now let me get this straight…… Mr. Frohriep had been battling cancer for years….. He knew that the chances of success were slim yet he did not save for his own funeral expenses? Really?

    He knew he was going to die. He easily could have siphoned a few dollars a month over a few years period and paid for his own funeral expenses. Am I missing something here?

    Yet for all his philanthropy and good deeds, he planned in the end to burden his children with the expense of his funeral?

    • michaelv michaelv says:

      I agree Dan. While he provided a great service to the homeless, leaving his family with the debt didn’t need to happen. Not saying that charging his daughter to see her fathers body is right either.

  3. idavidgraficks idavidgraficks says:

    Maybe Dollar General, Dynamic Development and/or the DePierros can chip in. Last Summer, Dynamic Development hired the Palm Springs PR Firm Burke Rix Communications who in turn hired River Don and some of his Yucca Valley homeless inmates, bused them down to the Board of Supervisors Appeal Hearing, put more than half a dozen of them in Yellow Dollar General supporter T-shirts and passed them off as Joshua Tree residents. They then lied about Joshua Tree businesses…
    I’m sorry money makes people do awkward things, but it does.
    RIP River Don, the least the Town of Yucca Valley should donate towards his burial expenses.

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