"We'd see that it was being maintained, but we'd never see who was maintaining it," Chevron executive Joe Lorenz told NBC News.
Ever since it popped up, Chevron was content to let the memorial stay on its property. Last year, however, the company sought to upgrade the Richmond facility, which put the memorial in jeopardy. Instead of just bulldozing it, company officials left a note at the memorial asking the caretaker to contact them. That's when a man named Raymond Olson stepped forward and claimed responsibility.
Olson created the memorial to honor his only son, Raymond Olson Jr., who was killed by a drunken driver in 2002. Olsen built and tended the memorial in the dead of night, afraid that he would be caught and the memorial dismantled. When he found the note from Chevron on the memorial, he thought his fears had finally come true. He was wrong.
Instead of demolishing the memorial, Chevron teamed up with the head of the local neighborhood association to build a permanent memorial at a nearby park. The new memorial features a bench and a large rock bearing a plaque with a picture of the younger Olson.
"We said, 'This is your spot, Ray. You no longer have to come at night,'" Lorenz said.
Olson, overcome by the company's generosity, told NBC News that with the construction of the new memorial he could finally accept his son's death.
"It shows you people do still care," Olson said. "The world has hope."