Cemeteries are made for the living to remember the dead

28_cemetery_5365HILLSIDE CEMETERY  — Markers and gravesides like the one for John “Jack” Lee are well cared for and overseen by Sexton Ray Hofstad.  I-O Photo by Tirsea McNeal

By Tirsea McNeal, I-O Reporter

Historically speaking, Conrad could tell us volumes about our community if we were to ask the residents in our cemetery.

Each soul has a story and a history tied with many living residents in Conrad today.

Cemeteries are made for the living, so they can remember and visit and memorialize their loved ones.

Markers help family and friends find graves. Maps or internment or plot maps can help families locate plots.

Ray Hofstad is the Sexton out at the Hillside Cemetery.  He has a small office at the cemetery and information needed to locate a grave.

Hofstad keeps busy as Sexton.  He said, “I have a team, a couple retired volunteers who help me with some of the maintenance.”

The cemetery is accessible and used four seasons out of the year.  Hofstad said, “We mow, dig, repair and fix everything that needs to be fixed.”

Sometimes the most important part of a Sexton’s job is to know those they serve. Hofstad said, “It’s a lot of the little personal things I remember about those who have passed. If I can remember or know something about an interest the deceased had, I can make the service more personable for their family.”

As a Sexton, Hofstad also clears paths in the snow for those who may have trouble walking.  It’s all the little things he has done and continues to do for the bereaved that have made him a valuable asset and friend to many who have left their loved ones in his care.

Hofstad said, “Some people ask if they can bring a statue, or a shepherd’s hook, and it’s ok, as long as they put it to the side so we can mow and work around it.”  He added, “I don’t feel I have the right to tell someone they can’t leave something, as long as it doesn’t get in our way, we respect their wishes.”

Hofstad’s ability to compassionately do his job has earned him many thanks from a grateful community.

For an online grave search, you can view findagrave.com for almost any cemetery, including Conrad and download photos and memorial tributes.

According to the FindaGrave directory, 454 interments have been listed for the Conrad cemetery.

Paste findagrave.com in your browser and it will take you directly to the Hillside Cemetery, Mount Olivet or just Conrad City Cemetery for look up findagrave.com, then go to find a grave, and search for a cemetery.  Fill in name of cemetery, or just put Conrad.  Select the Country, State, and Pondera County and click.  It will take you to our local cemetery where you can place virtual flowers, leave a memorializing note or just browse for particular family.

Many families visit the actual cemetery throughout the year, during all four seasons.  The well-tended graves are distinct reminders of how important these ancestors and relatives are to the community and to Conrad’s cemetery’s Sexton, Ray Hofstad.