Wright retires following ‘rewarding’47-year career at Grandview Cemetery
SALEM — Caring for the final resting place of Salem area residents at Grandview Cemetery the past 47 years became a vocation for Tom Wright.
Now, though, he said it’s time to hand over the reins to another longtime Grandview Cemetery caretaker, new Superintendent Mike Farino of Salem.
Wright retired his position as superintendent effective July 1, but he’s still coming in a couple days a week to assist with the transition.
“It’s never been a job to me,” the 72-year-old said.
He described his career as very rewarding. As superintendent, he was a jack-of-all-trades and in charge of the overall operations of the cemetery, including fielding phone calls, selling plots, coordinating with funeral homes, preparing for events, such as the Memorial Day service, and maintaining the massive grounds.
More than 38 acres are in active use, with another 48 acres to develop.
Farino, a 1997 Salem High School graduate, has been working with Wright for 22 years. He’s getting acclimated to his new duties and said he’s expecting a smooth transition. He said he wants to continue serving the community.
The cemetery is also overseen by a board.
Recently board President Dr. Matt Yerkey saw a need for more space to hold cremated remains, so he got some friends from high school involved and together they donated a new columbarium with 36 niches to hold up to 72 memorial urns of cremated remains.
Donors include from the Salem High School Class of 1982 Yerkey and his wife Wanda, Dr. Peter and Sherri Apicella, Jeff and Wendy Hochadel, Frank and Glory Zamarelli and from the SHS Class of 1980 Scot Darling.
The new columbarium was purchased from and installed by Ventling Memorials, near the entrance to the chapel. An existing columbarium installed 12 years ago was a little bit larger, with 48 niches to hold up to 96 memorial urns, but was full, necessitating the need for a new one.
Yerkey said the group of friends made the donation in memory of family and deceased classmates.
Wright was grateful for help from the community over the years and all the support he received. He also thanked all the high school students who used to help care for the grounds and all the past employees. At this point, Farino’s spot won’t be filled. The cemetery has one other employee.
Wright said he has a lot of odd jobs to do at home and plans to spend more time with family and friends. He and his wife, Chris, have two daughters and one son and seven grandchildren.