Cemetery groundskeeper: 'The trend has gone from burial to cremation'

Cemetery groundskeeper: 'The trend has gone from burial to cremation'

ALBANY, Ore. -- Loren Schrock is a volunteer sexton with the Masonic Cemetery Association.

He maintains the grounds for Waverly Memorial Cemetery.

The upkeep and maintenance is funded by dedicated funds set aside by the Albany Masonic St. Johns Lodge, as well as plot sales.

However, the Masonic Cemetery Association is facing tough times. Schrock said they only sold two plots last year at $1,000 each.

"In the last 20 years, the trend has gone from burial to cremation, and we started seeing space sales drop, and we had to make adjustments," said Schrock.

Without plot sales, there's very little funds for maintenence of the cemetery. Schrock said they can only mow the grass around 8 times per year.

"Right now, we're not selling enough spaces to get the funds to pay for the mowers and any other unexpected expenses," said Schrock. "With our budget, we figured we could get by if we sold five. But if you're only selling two, even though we're taking some money out of the dedicated funds, that doesn't leave much for the upkeep."

This is all part of a nationwide trend. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, around 69 percent of Oregonians are now choosing cremation over burial.

Oregon ranks third in the most people who choose cremation, only behind Nevada and Washington.

Carl Kane's wife and son are buried at Waverly Memorial Cemetery, and he said he's had to mow the grass himself a few times in past years.

"At least twice before I've had to bring my mower here," said Kane.

"It looks pretty fair now, but before Memorial Day, you're like being in the Australian Bushland," said Kane.

It's a problem that Schrock wishes he could solve. But without money, there's very little he can do.

"It kind of makes me sad that we can't keep up like the park across the way. Everybody deserves a place to be buried someplace where it's nice," said Schrock.