Longtime cemetery volunteer needs help with resource

Posted: Thursday, July 01, 2004

The Kasilof-Cohoe Cemetery Assocation was established by the homesteaders in the 1950s to save people money, and save people money it did. I estimated at one time that those who bought graves there saved a quarter of a million dollars over the cost of a commercial cemetery. I took an interest in it when my uncle died in 1962. I volunteered to maintain it and have continued to maintain it for 40 years. The association voted me a wage and continueally raised my wages. I never asked for one cent.

Through the years, we have had four very devoted secretaries and are on the fifth one now. Theirs is a thankless job, meeting with people at some of the worst times in their lives.

For several years, a week before Memorial Day, we have a cleanup day. The Lions Club and other organizations volunteer their labor for this one day because they recognize the cemetery as the community service it is. They are a great help to me.

No one has witnessed the work I've done there. The Catholic Church recognizes burying the dead as a work of mercy. They will ask for 40 canned goods or $40 for Lent, but will not recognize the 40 years of my life doing a work of mercy because the bishop did not tell me to do it. I cleared three acres by hand and removed more than 200 beetle-killed trees. I was paid for the clearing but took no money for the trees, giving in to those who beleive we need money to pay some disinterested person to maintain it. That will not work. If people are not interested in it, then it should go back to nature.

I have not had a summer to myself in 30 years. I know how hopeless it is to ask members of an affluent society to work, but hopefully there are a few people who still have a sense of values. Maybe we could do what has been done with the highways. Maybe certain people could be responsible for maintaining a small area of the cemetery. Many hands make short work. I need help. I quit last year but am working again because I cannot stand to see 40 years of work go down the tubes.

Lyle Cole


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