A System of Administration

Date Published: 
September, 1903
Original Author: 
Frederick Green
Original Publication: 
AACS Proceedings of the 17th Annual Convention

Immediately subordinate to a board of trustees or directors there are usually found in a cemetery organization, a treasurer, a clerk and a superintendent and sometimes an engineer, each directly appointed by and responsible to the board.

The superintendent usually divides his employees into gangs according to the nature of the work they are to do. Thus he has a foreman and a gang whose duty it is to clean the roads, another to dig graves, a third to cut grass, a fourth to put in foundations, etc., the size and number of the gangs depending upon the volume of business.

When one in his first bereavement goes to one of our large cemeteries to arrange for the burial of a beloved one, a man called a salesman helps him to select a lot, another takes his order for an interment, a third receipts for his money, a fourth whom he may never see again lowers his best beloved into the grave and later a gang of mowers cuts the grass as often as the superintendent thinks necessary and the financial policy of the board permits.

A large cemetery so administered seems to lack heart, while the small, cemetery where the superintendent comes directly into touch with his lot owners, has the advantage of a personality which makes for good and somewhat lessens the sharp pangs of death.

To efficiently administer the affairs of a cemetery it would seem there should be a large board of trustees, who should meet about once in six months to hear reports and determine the larger questions of policy.

This board should appoint an executive committee of say five members, who should meet as often as once each month. The executive committee should select an executive officer who would be responsible for all the duties usually devolving upon: the clerk, treasurer, superintendent and engineer. This executive officer, by whatever title known, should hire and discharge directly or indirectly, all employees of the association and his word should go in the office or on the grounds.

As far as practical the men on the grounds should be worked not in gangs but as individuals. For instance a man should be given a part of the cemetery, say a section and it should be his business to cut the grass, water and care for the flowers, clean the roadways, and at the same time to check any unseemly conduct on the part of visitors. He should know the location of each lot on his section and it should be his duty to render any little assistance in his power to any of the lot owners on his section. In short it should be his business to know his lot owners and to be a favorite with them.

A number of contiguous sections should constitute a division and of course the number of divisions would depend upon the size of the cemetery. Each division should be placed in charge of a foreman, or perhaps a better name would be "Division Superintendent." He should with the approval of the executive officer hire and discharge the section men and instruct them in the performance of their duties, and keep their time. He should attend all funerals on his division, and be responsible for the neat appearance of the opened grave, the orderly conducting of the funerals, the closing of the grave, the placing of the cut flowers after the interment and the removal from the lot of all material used at the burial. He could of course call upon the section man to help him and in this way both he and the section man would be enabled to remember without effort the names and locations of the more recent interments and afterwards to readily respond to inquiries from friends or relatives.

A book of rules definitely defining the individual and general duties of each employee would be a great aid in promoting a feeling of individual responsibility for the general welfare of the whole cemetery.

In Lake View good discipline is largely enforced by a committee of the employees originally selected by them.

Complaints of lot owners are referred to this committee and report is made to the next monthly meeting of the employees and if anyone has been at fault the committee states the case and announces the assessment of a small fine, which is paid into the employees' sick benefit fund.

It is also the imperative duty of certain employees and it is the privilege of all, to report to the committee any mishap, delay or other circumstances that may appear to be detrimental to the welfare of the cemetery.

The fundamental idea upon which we are working in Lake View is to develop individualism as opposed to gangism in the management of employees, resulting in a federation of small cemeteries, thus adding the good points of the small organization to the numerous advantages possessed by a large enterprise.

From the publication:
AACS - Proceedings of the 17th Annual Convention
Held at Rochester, NY
September 8, 9 and 10, 1903