A Washington Cemetery employee officially retired Thursday after serving the city in her capacity for nearly 20 years.
Maryanne Puckett, who served as secretary and a “jack-of-all-trades” at the Washington Cemetery on U.S. Route 22 in Washington Court House, finished 19 years on Thursday as she has decided to retire. Puckett, according to her boss cemetery superintendent Rankin R. Kirkpatrick, has served the community above and beyond her calling.
“We have worked well together, in fact it has been the best working relationship I could have asked for,” Kirkpatrick said during an interview with the two Thursday. “She is a very caring individual who takes the time to know all of the people who use the cemetery personally. She is very hands on and was always willing to work outside with the rest of us. Maryanne is also really good at handling customers who have issues and questions and can be looked to as a motherly supportive figure. I know that is why she has done so well here and why she is well respected. I know if someone came in asking a question, Maryanne would give them an answer I would and could take care of them very well.”
Over the years, Puckett has seen many changes and renovations to the cemetery and how it runs. Her favorite part of the cemetery? It is hard she said to pick just one because she values the whole cemetery so highly, commenting on many statues and even the garden.
“I do really like the fountain though, mostly because of how unique it is and the relationship built while it was being renovated,” Puckett said. “Several years ago when we were deciding what to do with the fountain, money was raised to help fix it and a very amazing person, Eleftherios Karkadoulias, who owned a company in Cincinnati came to restore it. He is a very famous artist and over the years, he helped restore several pieces at the cemetery. Rankin and I got to know him and his wife very well. Unfortunately, he passed away this year, but I am glad to see some of his work in our own backyard.
An important innovation that Puckett has been front and center to help with is the new cemetery mapping software on the city’s website. At ci.washington-court-house.oh.us there is a feature called the “Cemetery Online Burial Search.” This software allows most names from the data banks at the cemetery to be searched and can help with information retrieval, including birth and death dates, names of parents and more. It has taken years, as Puckett said only about a quarter or less of the information was digital when she came to the cemetery in 1997, but she has meticulously updated the records, and now more people can be searched and found on the online map than ever before.
“We have 52 acres of land here and she has walked many rows and sections taking information down to include in the records,” Kirkpatrick said. “We have already talked about her leaving and I have said somethings, but we know she will still be around. I am not saying goodbye, just saying see you later, because I imagine I will have to make a few calls for questions and she is a great friend.”
Puckett said she didn’t have too many plans, but after her husband retired about five years ago she knew it was time to retire and spend more time with him, and her dog Tucker.
“I am planning on traveling some and spending time with my daughters, one of which is in Pennsylvania and the other is here in town,” Puckett said. “I really plan on spending time at home with my husband. I have said what I wanted to say to Rankin, but it has been a pleasure working with him and having such a great person daily that I could enjoy.”
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy