Unlike other local burial grounds, the Glendale Cemetery (founded as the Akron Rural Cemetery) seems to stand apart from the rest, with its lush tree canopy, meandering serpentine roads and century-old mausoleums.
It’s almost as if, though some may find it odd, the grounds beckon one to linger.
And while the cemetery has provided a final resting place to some of Akron’s movers and shakers — the Seiberlings, Spicers and Barbers, to name a few — Glendale also has provided a verdant backdrop for joggers, walkers, ballets and summer concerts.
Steven Kaut wants folks to know that the 174-year-old cemetery still provides a viable and unique resting place.
“We’re still an operating cemetery,” says Kaut, Glendale’s chief operating officer.
And as with any other business, part of the challenge is keeping the revenue stream flowing. And that means more burial plots need to be purchased.
Kaut sat down to talk about the Friends of the Historical Glendale Cemetery, “the fundraising arm of the cemetery,” and a nonprofit founded in 2002 whose thrust is to “assist and help maintain the cemetery by raising funds through grant requests.”
Much of Glendale’s revenue goes into grooming the cemetery’s more than 75 acres. “The cemetery, through its revenue, can’t really afford new equipment all of the time, and we need a lot of it to run this place,” Kaut says.
Cemetery equipment, which can cost upwards of $10,000 apiece, Kaut says, includes a back hoe, walk-behind mowers, zero-turn mowers and commercial trimmers.
“The cemetery was built basically in a forest years ago,” Kaut says. A number of trees on the property die or have dangling limbs, which requires regular upkeep. Kaut adds that the Friends board, which comprises 12 members who meet quarterly, is environmentally conscientious about replacing the felled trees with new plantings.
A recent improvement project will pave over three gravel roads in the cemetery. “So depending on our needs, Friends raises funds from different foundations” with the help of a grant writer who works in tandem with Kaut and the Friends board, he says.
Kaut, who is a firefighter and accountant who started with Glendale in 2007, says private donations made to Friends of the Historical Glendale Cemetery are welcomed and are “100 percent tax deductible.”
“These donations don’t have to come from a foundation and can be used for whatever they wish, buildings, landscaping, events,” he says.
The venerable and incredibly well-built mausoleums of granite, marble and limestone that grace Glendale’s landscape were “built to last,” Kaut says, and rarely, if at all, need upkeep, other than an occasional sweeping out.
In the event these grand, old structures need any work, they are insured with a blanket policy, as most of the families and their descendants are gone.
The Friends board is a well-balanced mix of members, whom Kaut describes as “very passionate about the cemetery and work to see its progress and preserve it.”
Friends board members include attorneys, architects, an advertising executive, a landscape architect, a University of Akron official, a longtime city employee and President John Frank, a prominent Akron-area businessman.
“We try to keep a diverse board, so that any type of issue that arises, I have somebody to fall back on,” Kaut says.
In addition to the many events Glendale hosts, some of its biggest are Akron Children’s Hospital Kids Are Number One Run, Gennesaret’s Home Run for the Homeless on Thanksgiving and the YMCA’s Jack-O-Lantern Jog, all of whose routes have participants running through the cemetery.
But Kaut urges: “We’re trying to get the word out to the public that, ‘Hey, we’re here, still operating, we’re open to anybody. Come check us out and consider us as an option if you lose a loved one.’”
For more information about the Glendale Cemetery, visit www.glendaleakron.com. Those who would like to make a donation to or have questions about Friends of the Historic Glendale Cemetery may call Kaut at (330) 253-2317 or email him at [email protected].