A Superintendent's Influence

Date Published: 
September, 1892
Original Author: 
C. D. Phipps
Original Publication: 
AACS Proceedings of the 6th Annual Convention

When a person assumes control of a cemetery as a Superintendent a new business opens out before him, being very different from all others. Then and there his influence begins and I think we can and should shape it for good. And then, if we study to please, to help and to sympathize, our counsel and advice will always be in demand. We are also expected to be well learned in our work and it is our duty to prepare ourselves, as best we can, by reading and studying everything devoted to our calling. If we, ourselves, do not strive to learn from others, who have been successful, we must and undoubtedly will fail.

One of our members, in a former subject, used this sentence, and I think a very good one: "There is no business that calls out more and better qualities than a cemetery Superintendent." The many persons of varied dispositions and minds, very often of the same family, the same kinds of work, the many ways of doing it, making a complication of thoughts and ideas, that a man must keep himself well educated, well read on every subject pertaining to his profession, and have complete control of all his faculties, and keep pace with all the subjects that may come up before him.

There is no place where the peculiarities of people are shown more than here, and a Superintendent is expected to please all who come to visit, and especially the owners of lots. Sympathy is a grand word, and it should be with us always. Without it you cannot be successful in your calling. Kindness should be to all, and under all circumstances, no thought of self, but all for others. Many may think that we would get used to our work and our feelings become hardened, but with me it is always sad, always someone's friend.

To be prepared for all this we must store our minds with all the knowledge on these subjects that we can, and I find that our own monthly, THE MODERN CEMETERY, is a great help, and I hope none will be without it.

And if we expect to make ourselves useful to the managers and all the lot owners, and have the good will and confidence of all who visit the grounds, we should have our burials in a quiet manner, with no hurry or noise, having everything as nice as possible. This is the time when people need all the sympathy we can extend to them, in these the saddest bereavements of their lives.

In making up the mounds and all work of that kind I think we can all have our own way, and if we explain which way we think best, we all like the low mound all sodded and green. This we know is the best. They do not dry out like the high ones, and even if plants are wanted you can have a place in the sad for them. As to shade trees, you cannot have a nice green sod under a tree. It is only a loafing place for those you do not want. Chairs and settees are as much out of place as they are but a resting place for idlers and others who have no business there.

Then comes the question of monuments and headstones. You are expected to know all about the best kinds of granite and marble, what kind of lettering you like best and who are the most reliable persons to deal with. And I think we should be well posted on this subject, as well as many others which touch our work, for it is one of the many ways of beautifying our cemeteries. We should not have too much sameness and always have good work. All the work in the grounds should be well done and a good, faithful and industrious Superintendent will always have the confidence and best wishes of all his people the same as is enjoyed by a good minister.

From the publication:
AACS - Proceedings of the 6th Annual Convention
Baltimore, MD
September 27, 28 and 29, 1892