Calvary summer crew makes it happen

Terry Miller, Jake Winch and Hunter Wick

A well-manicured cemetery doesn’t just happen. Calvary’s 40 acres takes a mountain of maintenance, especially during a season of challenging weather.

To help Caretaker Terry Miller whack weeds, prune trees, assist visitors, excavate sites and deal with the never-ending cycle of mowing is the Calvary Summer Crew, Hunter Wick and Jake Winch.

Jake, on his fifth summer at Calvary, is a student at South Central College, and just graduated from the Auto Body program. He’s in the process of sliding into a full-time spot at the family business, Fromm’s Auto.

Hunter is a biomedical student at Minnesota State University – Mankato, and has been on the Summer Crew for four years. Eventually, he’ll be going on to become a doctor or medical researcher.

While still young, Hunter and Jake are now seasoned veterans at Calvary and work together with Terry in smooth coordination.

Some people have wondered by two young men would want to work in a cemetery.

“People say it’s scary,” said Jake. “It’s not.”

“It’s like a park. There’s a lot of life here with the visitors and the wildlife,” added Hunter.

Most of all, the pair enjoy working outside and with Terry, their “favorite boss.” While there is a lot of hard, physical work at Calvary, they work as a team. Terry, they say, isn’t a micromanager; he expects professional results and treats them as valued team members. Hunter and Jake also like Terry’s progressive stance on constant improvement. The two have learned a lot about customer service and running an enterprise. Under his management, they’ve seen the cemetery constantly improve with new sections, a new watering service (done by Hunter) and new efficiencies with better equipment.

“He’s like an entrepreneur. It’s like it’s his business,” said Hunter about Terry’s constant push for improvement.

Terry says he’s been blessed with great help over the last 25 years, and that Jake and Hunter are no exceptions.

“What I tell everyone is that a man is only as good as his tools…and help,” said Terry.

Terry says he strives to develop teamwork and coordination with his crews.

“It’s a huge help when the right hand knows what the left hand is doing,” he said. “It’s also important to have a little fun somewhere in the mountain of work we have.”

 

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Rain, rain go away

output (1)The Calvary Crew has been battling with the elements, specifically the “copious” amounts of rain and mist that has been drenching the Mankato area over the last 10 days.

The grass has been growing at a record rate…and so have the weeds. So Terry, Hunter and Jake have been hard at it.

(Note the water spray coming off the grass in the photo above.)

 

Calvary preps for Memorial Day Service

A whirlwind of preparation is happening at Calvary Cemetery right now for its biggest event of the year: Memorial Day.

“Typically, we have more people visit the cemetery on Memorial Day than all the other days of the year combined,” said Terry Miller, Calvary Caretaker.

A special Memorial Day Mass will be held at 8:45 a.m. on Monday, May 28th. Father John Kunz of St.4589281 John the Baptist Catholic Church will be the celebrant.

“In the past, we’ve had anywhere from 100 to 700 people attending. It really depends on the weather,” said Terry.

While the Mass is said within Calvary Chapel, many of the visitors sit outside on lawn chairs and hear the service through the P.A. system.

Immediately following Mass, American Legion Post 11 will conduct a ceremony at the veterans’ memorial on the east side of the chapel.

Terry has some good advice for the event visitors:

  • Park on Goodyear Avenue in front the cemetery and walk in to avoid being blocked in the cemetery.
  • Bring lawn chairs in case you cannot get a seat inside the chapel.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather that morning.
  • Ground decorations are allowed to be placed on sites but must be removed by Monday, June 4th. (To decorate year round, you must have a cemetery-approved pot stand in a concrete pad — certain areas only. Please check with staff.)
  • No glass containers are allowed — please anchor flowers well or the wind will take them.

Light rain does not stop WOH spring ceremony

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A little rain did not stop the Wings of Hope organization from having its scheduled burial service at Calvary Cemetery on Thursday evening, May 10th.

Father Tim Reker and Deacon John Rudd from St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church carried on undeterred by the light but cold rainfall. About 15 people took part in the ceremony, and live music was provided.

Wings of Hope hosts burial services for children lost during pregnancy. A special section of the cemetery was developed and dedicated for this purpose recently — articles about the WOH site development and dedication are available on this blog.

The Wings of Hope website is located at http://www.wingsofhopemankato.com.

Spring clean up slowed by stubborn winter

The on-again, off-again spring and recurrent heavy snowfalls have slowed the annual spring clean up at Calvary Cemetery, reports Terry Miller, Caretaker.

“We had 70% of the roads open right after that last snowfall,” said Terry. “And we lost some tree branches. Over a foot of snow has fallen and obviously more on the way.”

“Just when I think I am getting some traction — by that I mean snow gone and spring clean up going on — along comes another storm. A year ago we were mowing. With Memorial Day just six weeks away, I believe it’s going to be ‘go time’ when this white stuff is gone.”

Of course, Memorial Day is the biggest day of the year at Calvary in terms of visitors and activity.

Terry also reports the frost is still deep in shady areas and the north side of buildings where the spring sunshine hasn’t warmed the ground or melted the snow cover.

The Kron Angel…a massive marker for Mankato’s merchant prince

No one who visits Calvary Cemetery can fail to notice “The Kron Angel.” Estimated at 24,000 pounds of imported Belgium stone and situated close to the central chapel, this massive monument commands attention.

So who is buried under this landmark?

This monument marks the final resting place of Frederick Kron, a prosperous and well-known Mankato merchant who was buried at Calvary on February 5, 1917 after dying at St. Joseph’s Hospital on February 1st. He was 64 when he died of “acute kidney trouble” following a week of fever and chills.

Frederick Kron was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 9, 1852, and arrived in Mankato with his parents, Johanna and Clement Kron on July 24, 1853, just one year after the town was officially “settled.” According to Mankato: The First 50 Years, a historical account published in 1903 by The Free Press Printing Company, Clement Kron first opened a tavern, then established Mankato’s first hotel, Kron’s hotel or “The Minnesota House,” which was described as originally a simple log house. Clement died in 1873 and Fred assumed management for two years. Shortly after that, on May 19, 1874, Fred married Clara, the daughter of Mathias Ulman, described in Fred’s Mankato Review obituary as “one of the pioneer hotel keepers of Mankato. The Minnesota House was later leased and eventually sold to Joseph Stahl, Fred’s brother-in-law. The Minnesota House was eventually torn down and a brick hotel, The Stahl House, was built. Fred opened a general merchandise store at 309 North Front Street and ran it for 10 years, according to his obituary.

The Kron Dry Goods & Grocery apparently prospered.  According to the Review, in 1985 Fred erected a three-story “business block” at the corner of Front and Main streets. It was there that he opened a true department store known as “The Leader.”

Fred Kron’s funeral, held at Ss Peter and Paul Catholic Church, was an huge event that closed many downtown businesses. The Review reports: “Business in the city was practically suspended during the holding of the funeral, all of the banks and most of the business houses being closed in tribute to Mr. Kron.”

Pallbearers included Mankato Mayor Robert Lamm, James E. Hickey, F.K. Meagher, John H. Hohmann, Joseph Thro, H.F. Leonard and Otto Lamm. Honorary pallbearers were the director of the Mankato State Bank. Fred was president of the bank at the time of his death.

A Mankato Review article dated February 7, 1917 focused on the probate of Fred’s estate. Details included his financial holdings: Town and city property valued at $36,000; farm property valued at $4,000; personal property, $60,000; and $40,000 in “rents and profits.” According to one online currency calculator that $140,000 would equate to $2.6 million in today’s dollars.

The Encyclopedia of Biography of Minnesota (online version, published in 1900 by The Century Publishing and Engraving Company of Chicago), has a section on Frederick Kron. According to the biography, Fred and Clara had no children. Since Clara (shown left) died before Fred on June 29, 1910 at the age of 55, the proceeds of his estate were directed to his mother who survived him.

There was some controversy regarding Fred Kron’s will…or lack of one. A newspaper account at the time noted that “some say” that they overhead Fred and Clara talking about making or having wills while there was other hearsay that Fred had said the wills had been destroyed. That Fred’s mother, Johanna, claimed that her son, the merchant prince, died intestate, produced some local controversy. At the time of this post, no subsequent article has been found that a will was ever produced, and no reference found about who exactly ordered the lavish Kron Angel monument. It’s easily possible that Fred ordered it after his wife’s death, and the monument was already installed at the time of his death.

Any additions or clarifications to this account are welcome!

— The Calvary Ghostwriter

 

 

 

Hoping for snow cover at Calvary today

The unseasonably warm weather of the last few days has Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller hoping for some continued relief from the subzero blitz that has made January 2018 a tough month.

The combination of no snow cover and numbing subzero has dropped the frost down 16 inches deep. That basically turns the ground to stone-like hardness, making it necessary to heat a site for 24 hours prior to excavation.

Today’s forecast for snow has him hopeful.

“I still wish we would get a good foot of snow. Not only would it keep the frost from going down further, it would maybe take some out,” he said.

The threat of a blizzard has closed Mankato area schools today. That forecast could well bring the snow Terry is hoping for.

Bitter cold makes for tough working conditions at a cemetery. Machinery has to be kept running longer to keep it starting reliably, and the frozen ground means three hours of prep and 24 hours of heating added to the normal excavation work load.

“But I will say the auger we purchased a few years ago is great. The carbide blades will go through approximately one inch of frost per minute,” he explained.

 

Christmas marks the time

Since Dickens and A Christmas Carol all Christendom has recognized that, while fashion, attitude and politics change, Christmas marks the time.

We all remember from one Christmas to the next. That first Christmas with the new baby. That last Christmas with a grandparent. We remember our little traditions, sometimes handed down from parents and grandparents, or even those from the lands our great-great-great grandparents came from.

Christmas Present gets its savor from Christmas Past. It is our most celebrated and revered season. And those seasons we remember and remember each December, ever measuring this year’s vintage against the treasured tastes of bygone yules.

In that savoring, it is hard not to remember those no longer with us while we sit around our festive holiday tables. That favorite great aunt, treasured grandparent or especially close cousin…we see glimpses of them laughing by the fireplace or see a special ornament of theirs on this year’s tree.

But the sharpest stabs of nostalgia, the ones so painfully poignant, come from the absence of parents, children, brothers, sisters or spouses…those we once shared each day with in bouts of triumph, sickness, chores and just the ebb and flow of daily life.

Christmas has the power for great joy but also for great sorrow.

As we celebrate the Birth of Our Savior this day, remember that His sacrifice at the original Calvary conquered eternal death. We hope your memories of Christmas Past bring you joy this season.

Calvary Caretaker shares insights and experiences at workshop

“Eternal care has value.”

That’s one of the messages that Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller shared with Catholic cemetery caretakers and board members from across the diocese during workshops held this month.

Although there are over 100 Catholic cemeteries in the 20 southern Minnesota counties that encompass the Winona Diocese, Terry is one of the few full-time, professional caretakers. On average the other cemeteries in the diocese average 3.2 burials per year while Calvary averages close to 100 per year. While there are some larger cemeteries in the diocese, Calvary is the largest in terms of acreage under maintenance.

Because of his experience, Terry was invited to be one of the speakers at the workshops, and appeared in Adrian and Owatonna to share his views. He was also accompanied by one of the Calvary board members, Father Tim Reker, pastor of St. Joseph the Worker parish.

Attendees consisted mainly of cemetery caretakers, volunteers and clergy.

Terry shared the tactics that he and his board have advanced at Calvary in order to ensure “perpetual care” of the cemetery for future generations. Topics included pricing, board involvement and advocacy, community and parish support, the use of social media, client service, and fundraising.

Terry reported that his sharing was well received.

“No doubt, cemeteries are about the past,” he said after the events. “But a big part of taking care of yesterday is about looking out for tomorrow. You know what I mean?”