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Weeks’ Funeral Home will manage cemetery, city retains ownership

Returning to its historic roots, Enumclaw Evergreen Memorial Park is again in the hands of private enterprise.

Effective with the coming of the new year, the cemetery northwest of Enumclaw is being managed by Weeks’ Funeral Home.

The cemetery has always been owned by the city but, until the 1960s, private parties cared for the grounds, dealt with grieving families and sold plots. The city took over operations and managed the cemetery for approximately four decades, into an era where it became more difficult from a financial standpoint.

The cemetery industry had to adapt to changing times, primarily the growing popularity of cremation rather than traditional burials. The development of Tahoma National Cemetery, where military veterans and their spouses can be buried for free, also made operating a cemetery more difficult.

Russ Weeks said he has been in touch with the city of Enumclaw for the past few years, discussing the possibility of taking over management of Evergreen Memorial Park. Talk turned to action during the later part of 2009, when it was clear the city of Enumclaw was facing financial difficulties.

For Weeks, taking over cemetery management makes sense from a customer service standpoint.

“They did the best they could and they’ve been great to work with,” Weeks said of city staff, but there are advantages to maintaining total control.

“This gives us flexibility that the city didn’t have,” Weeks said. “For example, we can serve families outside normal hours.”

Additionally, with the city’s limited staff, burials had been limited to one per Saturday, Weeks said. Now, if two burials are needed to meet families’ desires, that will be possible.

Weeks has convinced Bill Swain, who spent years managing the cemetery for the city, to come out of retirement and be the on-site manager. He’ll maintain regular hours at the rural cemetery, making it easier for families to look over the grounds and make arrangements. Swain will be in the office from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The phone number remains 360-825-2633.

The arrangement with the city spells out, in detail, how the grounds will be maintained. Weeks said the contract tells how often trees will be pruned and how long the grass can be before it’s mowed.

As the city retains ownership, it will continue to provide a Cemetery Board that oversees operations and makes recommendations on pricing.

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