Pride in our cemeteries

One of the Bowen family gravesites in the Stratford cemetery with the unkept grass crowding the site. Photo Wendy Yates
One of the Bowen family gravesites in the Stratford cemetery with the unkept grass crowding the site. Photo Wendy Yates

Wendy Yates remembers planting wooden crosses with her grandfather, Jim Bowen in the Stratford cemetery.

“He was basically like the mayor of Stratford,” Wendy said. “He really fought for the community, holding fundraisers to help keep the school and the hall.”

And the cemetery was just another place he was quite proud of, a place he tended to regularly, knowing where every person was buried. Jim has been laid to rest there, along with his wife, Ethel, his brother and sister-in-law and other family members.

So, when Wendy takes her mother, Dorothy Bonning to the cometery, it’s understandable they expect it to be maintained the way it had been by Jim.

During a visit on November 6, the pair noticed the grounds appeared to be quite untidy, with the grass reaching up to the height of the headstones and lots of weeds. 

Wendy said the state of the grounds really upset her mother, so much so that Dorothy contacted MidCoast Council, which owns and operates the Stratford cemetery, to ask staff to tidy it up.

Stratford cemetary.

Stratford cemetary.

Unfortunately, this didn’t occur before their next visit on November 14, which again upset Dorothy terribly.

“It’s disrespectful to the families who have loved ones buried there,” Wendy said. “Especially to my grandfather after all he did for the town.”

The cost of a burial in the Stratford cemetery is the same as for Gloucester, where Wendy’s husband Gary is buried, and she has noted that Gloucester is maintained regularly, so she can’t understand why Stratford isn’t.

“If Gloucester can be maintained, why can’t Stratford be maintained,” she said. “A service has been paid for that’s not being provided.”

It’s disrespectful to the families who have loved ones buried there.

Wendy Yates

A spokesperson for MidCoast Council said the maintenance schedule for the Gloucester and Stratford cemeteries has been established for some time.

“Our maintenance schedule is based on the usage of the cemeteries to ensure the best use of our resources.

“The Gloucester cemetery is maintained on a weekly basis, with Stratford maintained approximately every three weeks during the growing season. Gloucester has approximately 50 burials per year, while Stratford has approximately four per year,” a spokesperson said. 

Council said the Stratford cemetery was mowed on November 21.