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Meet a Cemetery Administrator: Chelsie Bowen for the Town of Greater Napanee

Learn more about Chelsie Bowen's job as the Cemetery Administrator for the Town of Greater Napanee and gain valuable insight into what it's like to work in the cemetery industry. Chelsie manages over 40 cemeteries in her area, including Sandhill (McCabe) Cemetery, Riverview Cemetery, Riverside Cemetery, and Roblin Cemetery.

Chelsie, how long have you worked for the Town of Greater Napanee? How did you first get into the profession?

Hello! My name is Chelsie Bowen and I have worked for the Town of Greater Napanee as the Cemetery Administrator since the summer of 2021. I was looking for a full-time position and came across the job posting with the Town of Greater Napanee and thought I would be a great fit. I have fantastic customer service skills and I had worked with people in all emotional states when I worked at Kingston General Hospital, so I knew I could be a kind, empathetic, understanding contact for those who are dealing with grief.

What is your job like? What are you responsible for in a typical week?

My job is very interesting; no two days are the same. I am responsible for the day-to-day administration of all of the municipally owned cemeteries (currently 4 active sites and 35 inactive or abandoned sites). I coordinate with families and Funeral Homes for upcoming burials, I am the one who goes out to the Cemetery to stake the location for our Cemetery Labourer or contracted service to dig the grave openings, I also stake the location for monument installation once I have approved the application. I am the point of contact for any complaints regarding cemeteries, active or inactive, I keep detailed files for all burials, and I report our financials to the Bereavement Authority of Ontario (BAO) at the end of each year.

I also ensure compliance with the BAO Regulations, the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act (FBCSA), as well as our Cemetery Bylaws.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favourite part of my job is getting to meet new people and assist them in a daunting process by making it as comfortable as I can. My pleasant demeanour, organization, and knowledge when it comes to purchasing a grave, researching for a loved one’s grave, or coordinating a burial ensures a positive interaction. Many families have thanked me for my guidance, so I know my work is valued.

What do you wish more people knew about funerals and cemeteries?

I wish more people were aware that each cemetery has its own set of bylaws and the reason for the rules is not to be harsh, but rather to make the grounds as crisp, clean, well kept, and professional for all who visit the cemetery. Whether it be to bury a loved one, to visit a grave, or to walk your dog, it should be a place of serenity and beauty.

What was the most memorable burial that you've helped with?

The most memorable burial that I have helped with would be with a pre-need woman. She is planning for her own burial one day and she has been very complimentary and grateful for my assistance. She had many questions and changes to her monument, but I was able to make it a painless and smooth interaction. I always strive to treat each person/family with respect and kindness, and I have had many compliments on my service delivery, but this woman stays in contact with me and has expressed her gratitude many times and it reminds me why I love what I do.

Do you have any thoughts or recommendations for people who are grieving?

I believe everyone grieves in their own way and that one must take the time to process their feelings. There is never a need to apologize for your emotions, we are here to help you through the process without judgement.

Is there anything else that you'd like to share with our audience?

I thank you for taking the time to read through my experiences, I am proud of what I do and am honoured to continue to assist those in need of my services as a Cemetery Administrator.

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Last updated March 23, 2023
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