Cemetery to get new office

Tucked behind the Carson City Senior Center in a small, brick building, Betty Denison has one wish: that the cemetery office could be warm.

Granted, it was warmer than the mid-20 degree weather outside Monday, but Denison, a 77-year-old cemetery office volunteer, hopes her new office will be warmer. And a new desk chair wouldn't hurt, either.

She doesn't have long to wait.

On the east end of the cemetery, Sexton David Stultz, Kenny Fraser, a cemetery caretaker, and a worker from the city's facilities maintenance department, are finishing the foundation for the new 1,440-square-foot cemetery office.

To save money, they're doing most of the preparation work for the new office, and the city is purchasing a modular building for the site. The project, with new office furniture and a paved parking lot, is estimated to cost $80,000 and should be finished by the end of April, Stultz said.

"It will be on cemetery grounds where people can find us easier, plus it will be a nicer place," Stultz said.

At just over 40 acres, Lone Mountain Cemetery sits just below the mountain of the same name with graves from Nevada's famous within its bounds. Famed stagecoach driver Hank Monk is there. So are six of Nevada's governors. So are roughly 7,500 others with room for about that many more, Stultz said.

Stultz points out while the cemetery and the two-acre Empire Cemetery are operated by the city's Parks and Recreation Department, it's a business like any other -- albeit one for which it isn't exactly easy to drum up business.

So, for the last couple of years, Lone Mountain Cemetery has been just shy of meeting its $140,000 budget, but city leaders have been willing to throw in the extra thousand or two to make sure the cemetery fund breaks even.

It's such a shoestring budget, Stultz talked Denison, a distant cousin, into spending about 30 hours a week volunteering in the office. Denison gladly answers the phone, clips newspaper articles and does other paperwork, allowing Stultz and Fraser to spend more time making sure the cemetery is neat and tidy.

"It's nice to have someone there to talk to. Especially when you've just lost someone, it's nice to have someone to talk to instead of an answering machine," Stultz said.

"I need it for myself," Denison said. "I need to be busy. You can only do so much housework, and I don't like housework. I like helping people, and these boys are real easy to work with."

Stultz said he does a little bit of advertising, but is more concerned that people coming to the cemetery are happy with the place they are choosing to lay family members to rest.

"I always tell people to look around and get what they like best," he said. "I want them to be happy."

Stultz joked that when he started working at the cemetery in 1992, he asked for the title CEO -- cemetery equipment operator. His boss didn't go with that, and he had to stick with the old English title of sexton.

Other than moments of vandalism -- in 1997, old wrought iron fences from the cemetery and in 1999 skulls were stolen from a crypt -- taking care of the cemetery is a good job.

"I get to help people in their biggest time of need," he said.


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