A man has virtually commemorated his late father by creating a QR code for his tombstone so that people visiting the cemetery can learn more about his fascinating life.
Michael Bourque, 55, an inventor and engineer of Melrose, Massachusetts, was mourning his father, John Harold Bourque, who passed away in April 2017 at age 87, when he had a flash of inspiration on how to honor his legacy.
“When someone dies, they put a mark on the ground before you buy the stone. I thought, “Jesus, nobody’s going to see this. There’s so much to know about my father.” And in an instant I came up with this idea,” he told DailyMail.com.
Michael used a 3D printer to make the QR code locket from weather-resistant plastic that glows in the dark before sticking it on his father’s tombstone.
Michael Bourque, 55, of Melrose, Massachusetts, created a QR code and affixed it to the headstone of his father John Harold Bourque so people can learn more about his life
The inventor used a 3D printer to make the QR code medallion from weather-resistant plastic that glows in the dark
When passers-by scan it with their mobile phone, they are sent to a website with his father’s biography, including photos and a timeline of his life.
The youngest of five children, John was born in Melrose during the Great Depression and enlisted in the United States Army in 1951 during the Korean War.
The nuclear veteran, who was a carpenter by trade, built houses that were blown up during the nuclear tests that took place at Camp Desert Rock in Nevada.
“He had to hide in a bunker on the ground while they fired this nuclear weapon,” his son explained. “Then it was his job to go back in and see the destruction it had wrought.”
Michael shared that John was also a “great dad” who fueled his interest in innovation and engineering.
“We grew up poor and my dad was too cheap to pay anyone to fix anything. So I was that young lad holding the flashlight while we fixed everything,” he said.
“My dad taught me everything from plumbing to electricity to carpentry, and I owe a lot of my creativity and innovative skills and ability to make things to my dad.”
“This has been scanned all over the world – even Korea, where my father fought in the Korean War,” Michael told DailyMail.com. ‘He would be so happy to know his story has come this far’
John (pictured with his wife and son) was a nuclear veteran who worked on nuclear tests at Camp Desert Rock in Nevada
Michael’s father (pictured with his wife) supported his efforts and helped him start his cannabis vaporizer business in his final years
Michael added that his father also had a “great sense of humor” and would get a kick out of the QR code he created for his tombstone.
“Do you know what he would say about this product? He would say, “This is one of those products that people are dying to use,” he joked.
The self-proclaimed futurist recalled how his father helped him start his cannabis vaporizer business in his final years.
Michael was initially hesitant to tell him about his product because his father was staunchly against marijuana use growing up, but he eventually got his full support.
“I was really afraid he would look down on me. He did just the opposite,” he explained. “He helped me bring this company to life. He helped me bring the product to life and that gave me a lot of courage.”
Michael said his father had all of his powers before he died and was “smart and witty to the end.” John had been caring for his wife, Elizabeth, as long as he could while she battled dementia.
Years after his father’s death, he was inspired to share a photo of the QR code he made for his tombstone LinkedInwhere it went viral.
“He helped me bring this business to life,” said Michael. “He helped me bring the product to life, and it gave me a lot of courage”
Michael wants to revolutionize the way we pay tribute to the dead and make cemeteries more immersive by adding QR codes on tombstones
“Everyone scanned it, and if someone scans it, I know where they are in the world,” he explained. “This has been scanned all over the world, even in Korea, where my father fought in the Korean War. He would be so happy to know his story has come this far.”
Michael has made the QR code reprogrammable so he can redirect it to any location he chooses. It can go to a certain page one day or play a song the next day. He plans to make another one for his brother, who died of ALS at age 58.
The designer isn’t the first to create a QR code in someone’s honor, but he wants to make the practice more widespread and revolutionize the way we honor the dead.
“I think we can give people the idea that being in a graveyard is morbid. It’s not. it’s actually a beautiful place to go,” he said. “And if there were QR codes, I think people would scan them.”
Michael is now developing this technology with After Cloud, a UK-based company that has developed an app for preserving family history and digital memories.
He has since redirected his father’s QR code, which initially went to a page on Legacy.com, to After Cloud.
“I’m looking for a graveyard or cemetery that wants to build a new immersive experience,” he said. “Let’s put these on all these graves.”