A responsibility to maintain professionalism

“It’s people like her who bash the cemetery that put a bad taste in my mouth.”

On Monday, Maple Grove Cemetery caretaker David Ferland said that about Brenda Manchester, whose husband, Walter Manchester, is six years buried in the Mechanic Falls cemetery.

If anyone should have a bad taste in their mouth, it’s Brenda Manchester. Not David Ferland.

Unhappy with recent criticism about the level of care and upkeep at the cemetery, Ferland angrily lashed out at Manchester, using her husband’s grave to send a message.

Ferland’s message, scribbled on a plastic window box and left in the center of Walter Manchester’s unmowed plot over the weekend, read: “So the cemetary only get mowed 3 times a year huh. Guess I will only mow your plot 3 times a year! If you want to lie about a beautiful well improved cemetary youll always have God to answer to. P.S. this is personal. You will not have youre stone pressure washed”

All around the unmowed plot, the grass had been neatly trimmed, framing another message from Ferland: Manchester’s concerns are trivial and her husband’s grave is not worthy of his attention.

As our readers correctly pointed out in commenting on our story Tuesday, Ferland’s message was unprofessional and cowardly. And, might we add, just plain mean.

Brenda Manchester is an elderly widow who recently co-signed a letter to the Sun Journal, also signed by Lena Paradis of East Poland and Daniel Boyd of Poland, outlining their shared frustrations with the administration of graveyard rules enforced by the Maple Grove Cemetery Association.

Their letter included a petition calling for changes from 118 people who signed their names and provided their hometowns and phone numbers, a clear demonstration that Manchester, Paradis and Boyd are not alone in their concerns.

Lucille Hodsdon, identifying herself as assistant treasurer of Maple Grove Cemetery, posted a comment on Tuesday’s story noting that the trustees had not received Manchester’s letter. Hodsdon would like to have it, she noted, so she can “check the 118 signatures to verify that they are all lot owners of Maple Grove Cemetery.”

Fair enough, but does that mean only lot owners have a say in the care and upkeep there? What about friends and family who visit the place but didn’t buy the lot? Or the dead and buried who can’t speak?

Hodsdon suggests that if someone has a problem with the cemetery, “the proper course is to contact the president or a trustee to see if the problem can be corrected.”

Manchester says she did that, and got no response, so she sought the support of others who felt as she did and made a case to the Sun Journal.

For her efforts, Manchester was called a “troublemaker” by cemetery Trustee Noella Hemond.

Is she a troublemaker, or is she just a grieving woman who wants her husband’s grave site cared for?

We get that Ferland is upset at the criticism and he has every right to disagree with Manchester, as he obviously does, but he cannot refuse to care for Walter Manchester’s plot. It’s disrespectful and oddly childish.

Ferland defended his actions, telling the Sun Journal “the cemetery ought to be a peaceful place. I’m not trying to take that away from her.”

Not only did he try, he succeeded in doing so.

Since her husband’s death, Manchester has made daily visits to his graveside. Now, she’s scared to do that, which means Ferland has publicly victimized an elderly woman.

Who’s the troublemaker now?


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 's picture

In the previous two articles

In the previous two articles on this subject the husband had been deceased twelve (12) years not six (6) years. Either way that is way to long to be going to a graveside on a daily or even weekly basis. The son in the first article said the woman had gone through several sets of snowshoes as she snowshoed into the cemetary on a daily basis in the winter. This is truly extreme behavior. The lady needs to move on and perhaps her grief issues have as much to do with the situation as anything else. The unfortunate woman seems to have way to much time on her hands. Perhaps someone in the family might encourage her to volunteer at a nearby veterans home or something to take up her time in a productive way, honoring her husband's memory instead of wandering around a cemetary morose, angry, and discontent. I suspect much of what she feels toward the cemetary caretakers is transference over the death of her husband. In addition to finding something besides hanging out at the cemetary for her to do, some counseling may well be in order for the lady including antidepressants if she is not already on them.

 's picture

And how would you know

And how would you know whether or not I am or am not qualified "to decide how long or how one morns the loss of a loved one?" I can assure you that any medical or mental health professional can tell you that six years or twelve years after the loss of a loved one is far to long to be visiting the graveside on a daily or even weekly basis. Any medical or mental health professional would tell you that wearing out several sets of snowshoes to reach a loved ones graveside on a daily basis for six or twelve years is demonstrating inappropriate behavior and an indication of significant grief issues. A competent medical or mental health professional would recommend counseling and antidepressents unless there is a contraindication not disclosed in the article which is why I suggested they be considered if she is not already on them. Before you make a dismiss someone's judgement you should ascertain their qualifications rather than dismiss them simply because you do not like them. If you are connected with someone exhibiting behaviors such as the woman in question, I suggest you encourage them to speak to their doctor and a qualified mental health professional. Denial, as we can see in these cases six and twelve years out does not remedy the situation.

RONALD RIML's picture

Sorry, She's in De-

RONALD RIML's picture

Public and Private

Kara Kane writes: "She has gone to great lengths to map out and notate all the verteran's graves in the town to make sure each one of them is remembered on the appropriate holidays, for which the town should be appreciative of."

Did your Aunt clear this with the relatives of each of those veterans to see if this was in keeping with their wishes, or decide on her own that this was in their own best interests??

RONALD RIML's picture

So she was acting in behalf of the American Legion

and merely didn't take it upon herself.

RONALD RIML's picture

This is 'Grave Desecration'

This is grave desecration

This is a note in extremely poor taste....

There is a difference.

[This comment has been edited by the administrator]

RONALD RIML's picture

Patti - Obviously those describing this incident

as 'Grave Desecration' don't have the foggiest idea of what that really entails. A lot of 'Drama Queens' here.

As a cop, I've worked cases in which vandals have even gone so far as to disinter the deceased to obtain body parts. That's really pushing the limit.

This is a 'Spat' in which two people have over-reacted, and many of the forums "Peanut Gallery" have gone to the torches and pitchforks.

What does State Law have to say about Grave Desecration??

§507. Desecration and defacement
1. A person is guilty of desecration and defacement if he intentionally desecrates any public monument or structure, any place of worship or burial, or any private structure not owned by him.
[ 1975, c. 499, §1 (NEW) .]
2. As used in this section, "desecrate" means marring, defacing, damaging or otherwise physically mistreating, in a way that will outrage the sensibilities of an ordinary person likely to observe or discover the actions.
[ 1975, c. 499, §1 (NEW) .]
3. Desecration is a Class D crime.

Seems writing a nasty note on a plastic planted just doesn't cut it...................... I don't think the D.A.'s gonna prosecute this one.

RONALD RIML's picture

Good reason to ask for a Court rather than Jury trial.

So reason prevails.

RONALD RIML's picture

Newspaper was 'Used' and 'User' in Cemetery Kerfuflle.....

And now we have readers alleging 'Grave Desecration' and crying for escorts from Military Service Organizations!!

Jeez. Put the Pitchforks down already!!!

 's picture

Ferland should be ashamed of himself to be sure,

... a gravesite is no place to be leaving nasty notes for visitors no matter what the facts of the situation are. I consider his act to be a form of desecration and if he worked for me he would be removed for his utter lack of respect for those he was hired to care for.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Now matter how we slice and

Now matter how we slice and dice it, Ferland was unprofessional, rude, and out of line. He should be required to applogize to Mrs. Manchester.

 's picture

how many other places does this guy mow?

i want to know cause im not going to have any of my family members subjected to this.


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