Pines Cemetery is now a part of the Fairmount Memorial Association.
Fairmount bought Pines Cemetery, at 1402 S. Pines Road, and South Pines Cemetery, at 13126 E. 32nd Ave., from the Opportunity Cemetery Association.
Denny York, president and chief executive officer of Fairmount, said the Opportunity board asked if Fairmount would take over operations after the death of Wally Plowman, who had been president of the organization for more than two decades.
“We did it with their blessing,” York said.
Neil Prescott, vice president of the Opportunity Cemetery Association, agreed.
“With their expertise and resources they will be able to do many of the things we had only hoped to accomplished,” Prescott said. “This change will be of real benefit to the Valley.”
Prescott said his board was impressed with a tour of Fairmount’s cemeteries and are excited the larger organization could make improvements that have been on their wish list for a while: new fencing, sprucing up the grounds, putting in a scattering garden, new monuments and more niches.
York had met with Plowman shortly before his death.
“Wally Plowman was in charge of this (Pines) and South Pines for 20 to 25 years,” York said. While talking, York said Plowman was still enjoying the work he was doing with the association.
Pines Cemetery opened in 1910, South Pines in 2007.
“It’s two old, locally-owned, nonprofit cemetery organizations coming together in all of this,” York said.
Fairmount was founded in 1888 and now operates seven cemeteries in the county. Fairmount Memorial Park near Joe Albi Stadium, Greenwood Memorial Park along Government Way in Spokane, Riverside Memorial Park across the street from Greenwood, the Spokane Cheney Memorial Gardens along the Cheney-Spokane Road, Woodlawn Cemetery on Eighth Avenue and Thierman Road in Spokane Valley and now Pines and South Pines Cemeteries.
Fairmount also operates Heritage Funeral Home & Crematory.
“We’re the largest, locally-owned, full-service cemetery, crematory and funeral home in the Northwest,” York said.
York said the acquisition will allow Fairmount to place a full-time sales staff at Pines.
“They’ve never had a sales staff,” York said.
There are plans to replace many of the trees at Pines and add trees to the cemetery at South Pines. They want to add a military memorial and an innocence statue dedicated to babies and children. And, the sprinkler system will be updated – during an inventory workers found old wooden water pipes in the irrigation system.
York said sunken grave markers will be raised. He said in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, the trend in grave markers was flat markers. The general idea was that they would be easier for the groundskeepers to mow, but over time the markers tended to sink.
Rob Goff, family service representative, said keeping local history alive for the community is important to Fairmount. He and his staff are researching who is buried at Pines – it’s age means many local pioneers are there. The association wants to begin walking tours and offer tours for classrooms.
York said only 342 acres have been developed at the cemetery, leaving 400 acres undeveloped. He said there are 1,200 to 1,500 plots available per acre, ensuring the cemetery will be operational for at least 1,000 years.
“Eternity is an awfully long time,” he said.