New watering service offered

Do you keep flowers on display at Calvary, but struggle to keep them watered daily? Calvary Cemetery is now offering a watering service.

Hunter Wick, in his third summer at Calvary, will be performing this service. Hunter is a sophomore at Minnesota State University – Mankato and is going to med school when he gets his undergraduate degree.

“This is a big thing I have always had a lot of requests for, but honestly I have had no time to work it into my daily routines,” said Terry Miller, Calvary Caretaker. “It’s great to finally be able to offer a watering option.”

Those who are interested can call Hunter for pricing.

An amazing night — WOH Evening of Remembrance

A beautiful May evening graced “An Evening of Remembrance” as about 80 people gathered to remember children lost before birth on Thursday, May 11th. Pastor Michael Omtvedt of Hosanna Lutheran Church presided, and Amy Kuch and Pam Schultze provided music for the service that was held at Calvary’s new Wings of Hope Memorial area.

“Excellent music…an amazing night,” remarked one participant. “It feels good to be part of it!”

Special thanks these individuals, organizations and businesses who helped make the memorial site and these services possible: The Wings of Hope Committee (Chris Oldenburg, Julie Laughlin and DeeAnn Wacker), The Calvary Cemetery Board of Directors, Caretaker Terry Miller, Tom Miller (Monuments by Miller), Mankato Mortuary, Brown-Wilbert, Inc., Hilltop Florist and Greenhouse, Hilltop Hy-Vee, Pamela Hed, Hosanna Lutheran Church.



Wings of Hope ‘Evening of Remembrance’ on May 11th

An “Evening of Remembrance” will be celebrated at the Wings of Hope memorial site at Calvary Cemetery at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 11th.

The evening event includes an ecumenical burial service for families who have lost children in miscarriage and a memorial service for those who have endured pregnancy loss and newborn death.

The Wings of Hope organization will provide light refreshments. For more information, visit the WOH website at

Rain and sun equals grass…there is no escaping math

As sure as 2 + 2 = 4, abundant rain in late April followed by ample sunshine in early May, equals a growing frenzy for the grass at Calvary Cemetery.

It’s crunch time at Calvary. The more sedate winter months are suddenly gone. The grass is screaming to be mowed, spring is resulting in two or three funerals a week, more pleasant weather is bringing in streams of visitors and part of the summer crew is still at college, finishing up finals.

Standards have to be met. Keeping Calvary in pristine condition has abruptly become many times more work than it took in February.  

As Caretaker Terry Miller grapples with the brisk uptick in maintenance, he is grateful that those with genealogical inquiries email him with requests for grave locations instead of making a sudden appearance.

“I’ve got to say that we have great visitors at Calvary. Most people send me an email if they’re looking for the grave of a particular person. That give me a chance to do the research, and be ready when they arrive,” says Terry.

For families with relatives buried at Calvary, it’s all about service.

Let the mowing begin!

The mowing season has started at Calvary! Patrons and visitors who have winter decorations at the cemetery should pick them up as soon as possible. Caretaker Terry Miller would like to remind visitors that any permanent decorations need to be in approved stands. Please see him when you visit if you have any questions.

A better view of the Model A

Here’s a vintage photo of previous Calvary caretakers Jerry Miller (left) and John Udelhofen with the Model A truck, circa 1970s. As mentioned in our last post, the Model A was the cemetery workhorse for many years. This picture clearly depicts the “rugged” nature of the truck. As current Caretaker Terry Miller says, the Model A was noteworthy for what it lacked — heat, a floor, a cab, windows, etc. Note the crankshaft hole at the bottom of the radiator assembly. For younger readers — in primitive cars and trucks that lacked batteries or had a failed battery, the driver manually turned the crankshaft to start the vehicle.

From Model A to 1-Ton pickup

This 2014 1-ton GMC pickup is this year’s equipment upgrade at Calvary Cemetery. It is the latest in a series of workhorse trucks at Calvary.

When Caretaker Terry Miller started working as a teen at Calvary things were a bit primitive. The cemetery vehicle was a 1929 Model A Ford pickup. The Model A was more notable for what it didn’t have — no floor, no heat, no windshield. It did have a crank starter and a homemade trip-lever dump box. The Model A was not street legal, so any off-the-premises trips were made in personal vehicles.

Taking care of a 40-acre park with lots of stone monuments, a chapel and regular excavation tasks is physical work. So back in the day, a lot more muscle was applied to get the never-ending tasks done. Terry remembers days where the Model A wouldn’t turn over, and he had to use the starter crank.

“I learned how to drive a clutch with that ride,” said Terry. “We used that Model A until the late 70s. Then we got the 1975 International. That was our first truck with a power dump box and heat.”

The International served the cemetery for about 15 years. In 1995, Calvary invested in a 1989 Chevy pickup. Unfortunately, in 2006 a young driver pulled out in front of it while Terry was driving it, and the truck was totaled. Insurance proceeds paid for a 2003 Chevy. The 2014 GMC purchased this year should last 10 to 15 years.

“We are waiting for the dump box to be made,” added Terry.

All the Calvary trucks since the Model A have been 4-wheel drive and all of them street legal to allow for the many trips around town needed for hauling mowers, picking up parts for various pieces of machinery or other incidental errands.

More modern equipment has made it possible to do more with less manpower and be more efficient.

“I believe we are state of the art when it comes to cemetery operations,” said Terry. “A lot of other cemeteries call me for advice on equipment or pretty much anything that has to do with the daily ins and outs of managing a cemetery. Not that I know everything. There’s always something new to learn or a new way to do something more efficiently.”

Terry and Jerry Miller with the International.


Warm temps help with spring chores

tom-miller-stenciling_2-17Tom Miller rubbing a marker as prep for creating a stencil.

Last week’s warm temps eased work at Calvary and allowed for a jump on stonework.

While the frost retreated and greatly eased site excavations for Caretaker Terry Miller, stone artist Tom Miller (Monuments by Miller) was able to come out and start headstone rubbings.

“Rubbings” in cemetery lingo involve placing tracing paper on a stone and rubbing pencil or charcoal over the surface. This provides an accurate image of the stone’s engravings. Rubbings allow Tom to match the existing fonts on a stone.

Once the rubbing is done, Tom can create a rubber stencil for etching a death date into the stone. He cuts the stencil ahead of time and then comes out in the Spring to blast the dates into the granite.

The warm weather has allowed Tom to get way ahead of the game this year.

A walk through a London cemetery

In a search for interesting epitaphs, this blog post popped up – a very interesting tour of Highgate Cemetery, East in London. Between the two sections, East and West, there are 53,000 gravesites. For those of us used to the much smaller varieties, just the incredible variety of historic era, styles of monuments and statuary, is a little inspiring. Many thanks to the author for this pleasant survey.

via Highgate Cemetery, East — Destination: everywhere