Gary Zellmer joins Calvary Board

Longtime Mankato area resident, former North Mankato mayor and retired Taylor Corp executive Gary Zellmer joined the Calvary Cemetery Board of Directors this year.

Gary Zellmer

“We are very excited to have Gary on the board. His business experience will be a great addition to our board,” said Terry Miller, Calvary Caretaker.

Each of the four Catholic parishes in the Greater Mankato / North Mankato area is represented by the parish priest and a lay representation. Gary will be joining Fr. Paul van de Crommert as the representatives for Holy Rosary Catholic Church in North Mankato.

The rest of the current board includes:

  • St. Joseph the Worker
    • Fr. Tim Reker
    • Lay Representative Doug Sjulstad
  • St. John the Baptist
    • Fr. John Kunz
    • Lay Representative / Trustee Fred Muellerillie
  • Ss. Peter and Paul
    • Fr. Andrew Whiting
    • Lay Representative Bob Kruezer
  • Board Secretary: Glen Barnette

Calvary unveils new video

It’s all about the families we serve. That’s why it’s now possible to see a informational video about Calvary Cemetery.

The new video will help distant family members get great visual information about Calvary. Just click on the picture link to view the video.

Pruning back nature

Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller and his crew took advantage of the relatively warm winter temperatures and low snow pack to remove a 135-year-old pine tree and trim up approximately 125 red cedars.

Helping Terry were Hunter Wick and Joe and Jake Koberoski. The Koberoski know how and heavy equipment made the huge project manageable.

“It was a lot of work,” said Terry. “But taking all the dead limbs and hundreds of pounds of weight off these 120 plus year old trees will certainly extend their lives”

According to Terry there are 500 trees on Calvary’s 40 acres.

“Sometimes I feel more like a lumberjack than a grave digger,” he joked.

Calvary finishes major repair

A portion of Calvary’s new NW roadway

Many people who visited Calvary Cemetery over the last 7 months probably took note of damaged roads and the comings and goings of heavy excavation equipment.

That was evidence of an extensive repair to a major washout of ground at the northwest corner of the cemetery.

“This was the biggest project ever undertaken at Calvary,” commented Terry Miller, Calvary Caretaker.

An aging tile drainage system, abundant snowfall last winter and rapid melting combined to cause a large land area to slide down into the northwest ravine. Entire trees skated down the slope and a portion of the road disappeared.

“We were literally only 10 to 12 feet from having buried caskets going over the edge,” said Terry.

It took months to repair the damage with 600 dump truck loads of fill and stone riprap to restore, shore up the area and repair the road.

Terry is happy to report that the restoration and repair work is now complete and the effect is positive and stunning.

“To me it’s the prettiest part of the cemetery now. It really opened up the view,” he said.

“Bob Lorentz and his amazing crew did a phenomenal job,” he added, praising the work of W Lorentz Construction.

Terry noted that walking traffic at Calvary is way up over previous years, and feedback from all the visitors is very positive.

“The walkers have loved the restoration and new roadway.”

Now taking orders for Christmas wreaths…

It’s hard to think about the holidays without remembering Christmas past and departed loved ones.

Christmas Wreath

If you’d like to decorate a loved one’s grave with some holiday color, Calvary Cemetery is now taking orders for Christmas wreaths. Ordered wreaths will be placed on graves the week of Thanksgiving and will be removed after New Year’s Day (weather permitting).

These 25-inch wreaths are Balsam Fir and feature a red bow with white-tipped pinecones.

To order your wreath for $30, call Terry Miller at 507.995.1010.

BEC Historical Society’s Exciting October Events

A virtual cemetery research course and a virtual tour of Calvary Cemetery are exciting October offerings from the Blue Earth County Historical Society.

“Cemetery 101” will be held on Thursday, October 1st from 4 to 5 p.m. This Zoom meeting is free to BECHS members or $7 for non-members. Two presenters will focus on researching cemeteries and headstone symbolism.

For more information and registration, go to https://blueearthcountyhistory.com/event/cemetery-101.

Even more exciting is the recorded virtual Calvary Cemetery tour, “Ghosts from the Past,” that premieres live at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 8th. Following the live presentation, a recording of the event will be available afterwards up until midnight on October 17th.

According to the BECHS online information, the presentation includes views of Calvary, historic images, recorded narration and stories. Registration is $10.

For more information and registration, go to https://blueearthcountyhistory.com/event/ghosts-from-the-past-virtual-cemetery-tour.

Summer Youth group learns at Calvary

Father Andrew of Ss Peter and Paul Catholic Church teaches the Summer Youth Group.

What better place to learn about the physical and spiritual aspects of death than Calvary Cemetery on a beautiful Friday in June?

That was the experience the Summer Youth Group “ABLAZE” from Ss Peter and Paul Catholic Church (SSPPCC) enjoyed a week ago.

Their spiritual guide was Father Andrew Whiting, pastor of SSPPCC. Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller provided knowledge and insights regarding the physical matters.

“It was such a beautiful day…God was smiling on us,” remarked Beverly Miller, Director of Youth Ministry at SSPPCC.

According to Beverly, the group’s focus involved the Devotion to the Sacred Heart. Father Andrew spoke about Purgatory and the benefit of living prayers for the souls of the deceased.

“I think that talk on the Power of Prayer had a big impact on our group. To know that their prayers could do something for those souls who can’t help themselves…that was significant,” said Beverly.

Terry gave the group a tour of the chapel, entertained them with the history of the cemetery and talked about some of the biggest monuments on the property, including the majestic Kron Angel.

Strange spring continues at Calvary — Memorial Day Mass canceled

Last year it was monsoon rains. This year the pandemic is causing a cancellation of Calvary’s most celebrated event: Memorial Day Mass.

According to Caretaker Terry Miller, this second cancellation is as unprecedented as the first. Prior to last year the event had never been cancelled during his tenure as Caretaker.

A familiar sight at Calvary in the Spring — stone artist Tom Miller working on headstones.

Terry said the grounds crew has been working hard anyway, getting Calvary to tip top shape in spite of quarantine.

While the event is not going to happen, people are visiting Calvary. Traffic, in the form of cars, walkers and joggers alike, is at an all-time high.

“Even though there is no Mass on Memorial Day, visitors on that weekend would be smart to park on Goodyear Avenue and walk in to visit,” said Terry. “I assume it will be crazy busy especially if the weather is nice.”

(Just a reminder to all visitors — all ground decorations must be removed by Monday, June 1st. No glass containers are allowed. For permanent pot stands please contact the cemetery. Seasonal flower watering services are available; please call Hunter Wick at 507.327.0940.)

The current quarantine has not stopped, and possibly boosted, the number of cremation burials this Spring. Terry reports that he and his crew has been very busy dealing with those.

Editor’s Note: Calvary families and friends are still welcome to send in a donation via the U.S. Postal Service.

California dreaming for Terry Miller

Remember the thrill of crossing off that last bucket list item?

Recently trusty Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller got to scratch a life-long itch when he visited two cemeteries catering to the rich and famous in Los Angeles, California.

“I dunno, it might seem a little strange,” said Terry. “But it really was a dream for me to see the final resting places of some of the celebrities I grew up with.”

Terry happened to be in Los Angeles on other business but managed to break away to visit two cemeteries famous for…well, the famous.

One was tiny 2.5 acre Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, tightly wedged into West LA. This quiet, well-kept oasis houses the graves of many household names:

  • Jim Backus
  • Rodney Dangerfield
  • Richard Dawson
  • Farrah Fawcett
  • Eva Gabor
  • Merv Griffith
  • Florence Henderson
  • Hugh Hefner
  • Don Knotts
  • Jack Lemmon
  • Walter Matthau
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Carroll O’Connor
  • Natalie Wood

“I’ve been around cemeteries and grave sites all my life, but it kind of gave me goosebumps to see some of these graves,” he said. “You know, when I was in college, every guy I knew had that poster of Farrah Fawcett.”

“I mean, these are the people I saw on TV every week…Archie Bunker, the Brady Bunch mom, Florence Henderson, Dean Martin. It was almost eerie to see Marilyn Monroe’s headstone.”

Terry was also able to visit 200-acre Forrest Lawn Cemetery in Hollywood. With 25 burials a day on average, this bustling park also holds globally-known celebrities:

  • Gene Autry
  • Tom Bosley
  • Edgar Buchanan
  • Bette Davis
  • Sandra Dee
  • Carrie Fisher
  • Andy Gibb
  • Stan Laurel
  • Liberace
  • Penny Marshall
  • Ozzie Nelson
  • Freddie Prinz
  • Debbie Reynolds
  • John Ritter
  • Telly Savalas
  • McClean Stevenson
  • Jack Webb

“It was nice to get away from the winter here for a while, but this was really something I wanted to do for a long time,” said Terry. “I will say that these cemeteries were well-kept, but I still think Calvary is prettier!”

Calvary gets Christmas gift from Shamp Painting

Steve Shamp prepares the work area in the Calvary Chapel basement.

Shamp Painting got the jump on Calvary’s upcoming 125th anniversary celebration in 2020 by completely repainting the walls in the Calvary Chapel basement.

This generous Christmas gift was the brainchild of Charlie Shamp, according to Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller.

“This is part of ongoing work to get ready for next year when we have our anniversary celebration,” said Terry. “We’ve already launched the ‘Fund the Fence’ project, worked on road repair and extensive pruning and landscaping improvements on the grounds.”

“I can’t thank Charlie, the Shamp Painting crew and Diamond Vogel Paints enough,” said Terry. Shamp Painting and Diamond Vogel donated all material and labor.

The muscle and skill for the project was delivered by three generations of the Shamp family: Charlie, his son Steve Shamp, and Steve’s son, Chris Shamp, along with their helper, Crystal.

Chris Shamp applies paint to one of the walls in the Calvary Chapel basement.
Crystal works on surface preparation.