Tryon at Helm of the Growing Greenville Union Cemetery

Shown here with the new Columbarium are, from left, Arron Wise of Lasting Legacy and son of its owner Mike Wise, who was unable to attend; Greenville Union Cemetery Superintendent Tracy Tryon; and Wayne Becker and Luke Leber of Leber Excavating. (Linda Moody photo)

GREENVILLE–With his 34 1/2 years in education and his 18 years on Greenville City Council, Tracy Tryon indicated he did those things for the best interest of students and for the city. Now, he’s doing it for the best interest of the local cemetery.

“It’s fun to come to work everyday,” said Tryon, who has been superintendent of Greenville Union Cemetery for the past four years. He was no stranger to the cemetery, as he served as city council’s representative to the cemetery board of directors before that.
“I used to bring my classes here to do community service projects,” said Tryon, who taught for Greenville City Schools.

Tracy Tryon, superintendent of the Greenville Union Cemetery, reflects on all of the things that are taking place there. (Linda Moody photo)

He retired from city council in 2016, and took over for (the late) Dick O’Brien as cemetery superintendent after he retired in 2019.

The cemetery had its beginnings in 1850 and Tryon noted that some burials were even brought here from the Water Street Cemetery.

It is owned by the City of Greenville as well as Greenville Township;  thus, the name: Greenville Union Cemetery.

“We operate on selling lots and on the openings and closings for burials,” Tryon said. “We also get some donations, and we make a little money off of the foundations.”

He is proud of recent accomplishments that have transpired and held what he called an appreciation luncheon for everybody who made that happen. It was held at the Mausoleum.

“The lunch was for their hard work and getting the cemetery ready for Memorial Day as well as for the work they do here,” he said.

The cemetery sits on a little more than 140 acres, with mowing completed on 85 to 90 of those acres.

He praised the mowers — Dennis Tipple, Doug Lowder, and Randy Winger — that day of the luncheon.

Chatting at the luncheon were, from left, Dennis Tipple, Luke Leber and Doug Lowder. Tipple and Lowder mow at the cemetery, and Leber is in charge of the digging of the graves and the burials. Randy Winger, who also mows, was not present. (Linda Moody photo)

“Mowing is going on all week long, and when it gets done, it’s time to start all over again,” he said.

Mowing is done with 62-inch deck mowers. Graves, the superintendent noted, measure 40 inches wide, 10 feet long, and over six feet deep.

In charge of digging graves and burials is Leber Excavating, owned by Luke Leber, who has assistance from Wayne Becker,  with some of the new improvements.

Tryon is proud of the new Columbarium, which has been erected in the new section behind the flag pole on the west end of the grounds.

A Columbarium is a wall (but could be a room or building) that is designated for the interment of the ashes of people who have died and been cremated.

“Fifty percent of our burials in the cemetery are cremations,” Tryon said.

The structure is located near the flag pole in the new section with plans to add another one later. Lasting Legacy out of Greenville helped the cemetery crew to order and set up the first one and plans to resource a second one to match that at a future date.

That area will also be used for burials when there is bad weather to contend with after a funeral, and to protect mourners during these services, with a pavilion to be set up on a foundation that has already been laid. There will be patios on both sides of the Columbarium. The Columbarium holds 32 sets of cremains.

The two-man Leber crew set up the foundations in the newest area.

“It has 6,000 pounds of concrete,” Tryon said. “They are four feet deep and full of rebar.”
Leber said it took a couple of days to get that work done.

Another project that has been finished is the landscaping done at the entry of the new section off of State Route 571, also completed by Leber and Becker.

Yet to be finished is the installation of solar street lights to be placed in certain areas of the cemetery.

“The city police patrols the area,” Tryon said.

The cemetery also features BabyLand and a pet cemetery, with a fence separating the pet cemetery and the main cemetery.

“When customers purchase a lot in the pet cemetery, they’re not buying land but burial rights to the property,”Tryon explained. “We are governed in Ohio by the Department of Commerce Real Estate. We have to operate under the ORC.”

The superintendent also noted they get a lot of wildlife visitors on the grounds, including deer, turkey, fox, red-tail hawks, an occasional eagle as well as all kinds of birds.
“It’s no problem though,” Tryon remarked. “My biggest problems are the trees.”

Various areas are featured in Greenville Union Cemetery, such as an area that was donated by the Koop family for perpetual care in 1904.

Each area is a section and there are 34 sections on the grounds, but not in numerical order, he pointed out, adding, “There are four U.S. Congressmen buried in the cemetery.”

The military section nearby is free for any veteran wanting a lot.

“County commissioners do provide money for maintenance of the area and once a year, I send them a bill,” Tryon reported.

According to him, there are more than 15,000 burials in the cemetery, with more than 1,600 of them being veterans.

“The local Daughters of the American Revolution are so helpful,” said Tryon. “They do inventory and make sure every veteran has a flag holder. They hold a military walk in the summer, and take part in Wreaths Across America in December.”

Yes, Tryon is loving his job here because of its historical value.

“Bill Booker’s books help me when I am at the cemetery,” he said. “In January 2020, I took over the cemetery, then COVID set in. I got calls about genealogy and got to know some of the history that way. I enjoy it here. I will even meet people after hours.”

Tryon, who taught English, math, marketing, health and physical education during his tenure as educator, added, “It’s fun to come to work everyday. All of the guys are great and older ones still stop in to see us. We work hard to get the grounds looking good and get things corrected.”

Serving on the board as directors of the ceTryon at helm of the growing
Greenville Union Cemeterymetery are Brian Brown, Doug Schmidt and Mauri Miles.

“There is a good piece of history here,” Tryon said.

The two-man Leber crew finished off this landscaping project for Memorial Day. It is located at the entrance of the new section. (Linda Moody photo)