I wrote this for the local newspaper, but it contains information that may be needed by some readers, especially those with family in the cemetery.
The Past and Future of Gethsemane Cemetery
Gethsemane Cemetery, located just east of Caddo, was first set aside as a burial site in 1876. It was used for several years in a rather haphazard way until it was cleaned up and organized by the “Woman’s Club” in 1892. It is still managed by a group of women, reorganized and renamed as the “Caddo Civic and Cemetery Club” in 1903 and incorporated in 1913. Since the first meeting the goal of the organization has been to create and maintain a dignified final resting place for the family and friends of their community. In the past that meant selling standard burial plots to accommodate caskets marked by a variety of headstones. A fee of $100 was charged for the perpetual care of those plots. A host of volunteers and one or two paid workers mowed the lawns, trimmed the trees, and kept the records for the group.
In the past the Civic Club received only a few requests for cremation sites, but in the last decade there has been a major increase in the number of people who choose to be cremated. Some cemeteries estimate that over forty percent of their interments are cremations. In order to continue to provide for the needs of the community Gethsemane Cemetery will be offering new options for burial and increasing their prices for standard plots beginning on July 1, 2018.
For those wishing to purchase a traditional plot there are a few cremation spaces available in the established sections of the cemetery. These will accommodate the burial of two urns per space and will be sold for $400. Details of the headstone guidelines may be obtained from the office. $100 will provide for perpetual care of the plot and $50 will be charged for opening/closing the site.
Families who currently own a plot in the cemetery will be allowed to bury one cremation vessel above a casket burial or two cremations in an existing empty plot. Opening and closing fees will apply and the office needs to be notified of all burials.
Perhaps the most exciting change for the cemetery will be the creation of a new cremation “scatter garden”. Many people embrace the idea of a more natural burial in a landscaped garden and cemeteries across the state are accommodating them. Gethsemane’s scatter garden will be located in a secluded area of the new Meadows Addition. The Meadows Addition was recently added to the cemetery and a road was created through the middle of it. Thirty trees were planted and standard plots have been marked for sale. It’s the perfect location for the new garden.
The scatter garden will include a shade tree, flowers, paved path, and a bench for visitation and reflection. In lieu of traditional headstones the paving for the path will record the names of those scattered in the garden. Exact pricing for the scatter garden will be determined once it has been completed, but it will be a minimum of $150 plus $100 for perpetual care. A portion of the fee will be for record-keeping and the cost of the paving stone. All burials, in any part of the cemetery must be recorded. Engraving of the paving stones will be the responsibility of the loved one’s family. The new scatter garden will be funded by the generosity of the community, thanks to a collection taken up at the recent Easter Sunrise Service and donated to the Civic and Cemetery Club. More details will be shared as plans are finalized.
All of the expenses of managing a cemetery have increased dramatically in the past few years and the Civic Club has reluctantly decided it is time to increase the price of a standard burial plot to $400 + $100 for perpetual care. This is still very low compared to other cemeteries because the club wants to continue to serve the needs of family and friends for a dignified, affordable final resting place. Fees for opening/closing the grave will remain at $100 for weekdays and $150 for weekends. It may be noted that many of the grave sites in the cemetery have been maintained for over 100 years. More changes for the cemetery are in the planning stages and the Civic Club is optimistic about continuing to meet the needs of the community in the future.