Contact the Sexton
Graceland Cemetery is managed by the Board of Directors of Graceland Cemetery Association, Inc. While the affairs of the cemetery were being reorganized in 2002, the Board was made up of representatives of several of the community service organizations in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana. Those board members were as follows: R. Chadwick Edwards, Jr. (President); Michael Russo (Vice President); Gary E. Theall (Secretary-Treasurer); Russell Frederick; Sylvia Putnam, Maj. Tom Rigsby; Blane Saunier; Rebecca Shirley; Carol Simon; Rose Hagood, and Ken Taylor.
The Board did an excellent job of beautifying the cemetery, placing it on a sound financial footing, and organizing and preserving the records that had been kept over the years by the Abbeville Masonic Lodge No. 192.
Chad Edwards, Chair
(Lot Sales, Permits, General Supervision)
Public Relations Committee
(History/Research, Publicity, Website)
Sylvia Putnam, Chair
Maintenance & Improvement Committee
Blane Saunier, Chair
(Fundraising, Investing, Accounting)
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From its beginning in 1908 until the year 2002, Graceland Cemetery was managed for the most part by the Abbeville Masonic Lodge No. 192. Due to dwindling membership, the Lodge found it necessary to transfer the management of the cemetery to a new entity. Revis and Lorraine Sirmon conceived the idea of a corporate board whose members were community service organizations such as the American Legion, the Vermilion Historical Society, the Vermilion Genealogical Society, the Abbeville Rotary Club, the Abbeville Lions Club, the Abbeville Woman's Club, and others, for the purpose of reorganizing, renovating, and preserving the cemetery as one that the families whose loved ones were buried there could be proud of. A new nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation, Graceland Cemetery Association, Inc., was formed, and the Board was set up. The cemetery was then transferred from the Masonic Lodge to the new corporation.
One of the goals of the Sirmons was to raise a substantial amount of money to be invested as a management fund, with the income to be used to maintain and beautify the cemetery for the foreseeable future. Lorraine Sirmon started the fund by making the first substantial gift. Live Oak Foundation, a charitable foundation established by the Godchaux family of Abbeville, also made a substantial contribution, as well as establishing a matching fund to be used to double the contributions of others. Additional gifts followed, and the fund reached its original goal after less than four years.
Many of the individuals and families whose ancestors are buried in Graceland Cemetery have made repeated gifts over the years, without which the cemetery could not have been maintained. These gifts are still needed, as the management fund does not provide enough income to meet all of the expenses of maintaining and operating the cemetery.* If you would like to make a contribution either to the management fund or to the maintenance fund, click here.
During the reorganization period, the Board has operated largely through committees such as the Executive Committee, the Maintenance Committee, the Beautification Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Public Relations Committee. None of the board members or committee members were compensated for their work.
The Executive Committee has general authority to govern the cemetery, and was the liaison between the Board and the other committees. The Maintenance Committee was charged with the responsibility of providing for the groundskeeping, drainage, roads, fences, repairs, and other physical aspects of the cemetery. The Beautification Committee had the duty to provide for the trees, plants, flowers, and other aesthetic aspects of the cemetery. The Finance Committee handled fundraising, investing, and accounting for the cemetery. The Public Relations Committee handled history and research, press releases, this website, and other aspects of dealing with the public.
Today, the Executive Committee makes all executive decisions, and the Sexton of the cemetery has general supervision of the cemetery property, and handles upkeep, plot sales, the issuance of permits, and other problems that may arise.
*No representation is made that Graceland Cemetery is a perpetual care cemetery as defined in Louisiana law. The Board has determined that the governmental restrictions imposed upon perpetual care cemeteries make it inadvisable for Graceland Cemetery to hold itself out as a perpetual care cemetery at this time.
This website was created by Gary E. Theall with the authority of the board of directors of the Graceland Cemetery Association, Inc. All copyrightable material © Graceland Cemetery Association, Inc.