Cemetery maintenance man retires after 39 years

After being the hired maintenance man for the Bentley Cemetery Board for 39 years, 84-year-old Martin Schneider has decided

Maintenance man Martin Schneider poses in front of the rebuilt cairn in the Bentley Cemetery. He has retired from the position after 39 years.

After being the hired maintenance man for the Bentley Cemetery Board for 39 years, 84-year-old Martin Schneider has decided it is time for him to retire and turn over the reins, or work that is, to someone younger. Cutting five acres of grass was taking much longer and with more headstones has become more painstaking.

As of this spring, Martin’s grandsons, 16-year-old Carson Schneider and 13-year-old brother Ty, are now taking on the responsibility under the guidance and watchful eye of Martin, who has been particular, taking great pride and gaining much gratification from what he did from 1973 until 2012.

Carson has been accompanying his grandfather since he was about five years old so he is familiar with what has to be done, such as picking rocks and scrubbing stones and he has already developed a feeling of pride in the area.

Martin did all the maintenance work at the Bentley Cemetery including grass cutting, tree trimming and planting, land leveling, fence building and mending, cleaning up after storms, and any other jobs that needed doing.

The land owned by the cemetery association has expanded about three times, meaning there was extra work to do at those times.

Records are sketchy as the old records were destroyed in a house fire when Mitch Thevenaz was on the board, but the area was started around 1901 judging by dates on stones. There are now about 1,100 graves and 1,000 headstones

The main cairn was built about 1934 by Bob and Charlie Woolgar and was since rebuilt about two years ago when cement was giving way and stones had fallen out.

The wrought iron gate now in place at the main gate was built by Louis and Carl Wine and installed with help from volunteers.

On the cemetery board are Derek Dickau (for 22 years), Bob Garries, Bill Garries and Oran Cabelka.

“It is one of the nicest cemeteries in the area,” said Dickau, as he explained some people buy plots in Bentley just because of the location and how well it is looked after.

“I liked the work. I like the area. I had no special favorite part. I just like it all,” says Schneider as he reflects back and wonders why in some instances some others don’t treat the area with the respect it deserves.

He and his family continue to keep an eye out for vandals and try to protect the place, and hope others will, too.