REMEMBERING THE PAST

A Seymour man who spent nearly 60 years of his life working at the city’s largest cemetery can lay claim to something few others can.

“I was born here,” Dale Marsh said in reference to Riverview Cemetery on Seymour’s north side.

Marsh also spent 46 years as superintendent of the sprawling 60-plus-acre cemetery, where more than 17,600 people are buried.

So when Myron Owens, the cemetery’s present superintendent, learned Secretary of State Connie Lawson was going to recognize the cemetery Nov. 24 for being in business for 133 years, he decided to call Marsh to include him in the ceremony.

“Dale, of course, has done a tremendous job here,” said Owens, who took over for Marsh in 2006.

Lawson’s visit included a presentation of a century certificate.

“The secretary of state’s office is where corporations are formed,” Lawson said. “Last year, we started searching our records looking for a longtime business that has always been in good standing, and we found your cemetery.”

She said it’s rare to find a nonprofit that has been able to stay in good standing for as long as Riverview.

Lawson said she also was impressed with some of the people who have been buried in the cemetery since it was established April 24, 1882.

They include Meedy and Eliza Shields, who founded Seymour; Frank Brown Shields, who invented Barbasol shaving cream; Congressman Jason Brevoort Brown, who practiced law in Brownstown and also was a state representative and senator and secretary of the Territory of Wyoming from 1873 to 1875; Thomas M. Honan, an Indiana attorney general from 1911 to 1915; John N. Owens, an adjutant general of Indiana; and Blair Kiel, a quarterback at Notre Dame who played professionally for the Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers. There also are thousands of other military veterans buried there.

Marsh, who was literally born on a hill that has since become a part of the cemetery, went to work at Riverview for his grandfather, who was superintendent from 1928 until his death in 1960. Marsh then served as superintendent for 46 years until 2006 and worked for Owens for four more years.

Marsh said his grandfather and grandmother raised him in a house on that hill until she died when he was 10 years old.

“I took it pretty hard, and my dad was just getting out of the United States Navy. He was an officer,” Marsh said.

Marsh said he then went to live with his mom and dad, who lived in Reddington.

“He ran the cemetery out there,” Marsh said. “When I was about 16 years old, I started working out here with Grandpa.”

Marsh said he didn’t particularly enjoy burying people.

“But I did enjoy trying to keep things looking nice,” he said. “That was my main thing.”

Marsh said he thought it was great that the state had decided to recognize the cemetery with the certificate.

“I know my grandpa would have really been happy with it,” he said.

Lawson said the century certificate program is relatively new but one she plans to expand in the future as she visits each county in her role as secretary of state.

Besides himself, Owens said he has an assistant, Frank Cottey, and two other staffers in the winter. Two others are added during the warm months to help with mowing and weedeating.

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Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.