Introducing a new monthly feature, Edmonds — behind the scenesby the Edmonds husband and wife team of Sam Spencer and Diana Sheiness.
Cliff Edwards became sexton of Edmonds Memorial Cemetery in 1990, eight years after Lawrence Hubbard bought it and donated it to the town of Edmonds. Before 1982, the cemetery belonged to the Odd Fellows, who had not kept it in good condition. However, since being taken over by the City of Edmonds. this historic cemetery has been restored and revitalized, largely through the efforts of Edwards, who remains responsible for the upkeep and burials of this facility.
Cliff got his start in the “graveyard” business after graduating from high school in Kelso, Wash., when he applied for a lawn mowing job with the Parks Department of Longview. When he arrived for his new job, he was surprised to find that he would not be working in a park, but rather in a cemetery, i.e. Longview Memorial Park.
What started as a lawn mowing job quickly evolved into something different. A week after Cliff went into labor, the sexton in charge of the cemetery had to return east to care for his family. Cliff stepped into his shoes as a backhoe operator and was later promoted to Grounds Superintendent. He has remained in the graveyard business ever since. Long-married with five grown sons, Cliff will celebrate 50 years in the cemetery business in February 2023.
Cliff mainly deals with funeral homes, but is also responsible for the ongoing sales of burial sites in the cemetery. When burials are planned, he prepares the burial grounds using a backhoe, equipment he has used since his teenage years in Longview. But at this time of year, the place you’re most likely to find Cliff is on top of a lawnmower somewhere in the grounds of Edmonds Memorial Cemetery.
You can read more about the cemetery here.
— By Sam Spencer and Diana Sheiness
Sam Spencer, a retired real estate broker, is a member of Gallery North, an artists’ co-op on Main Street in Edmonds. He has been an avid photographer since he was old enough to point a camera. His wife, Diana Sheiness, is a retired biotech patent attorney who enjoys writing. They have been married for almost 38 years and wish in this column to celebrate those who work behind the scenes at Edmonds.