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Almost half of deaths in Crow Wing County result in cremation

Evergreen Cemetery has added a columbarium to keep up with changing times.

“Almost half the deaths in Crow Wing County now result in cremation” according to Karen Lentz, executive director of Evergreen Cemetery Association, Brainerd. “It’s a major change in the way folks memorialize their loved ones.”

In an effort to meet the change, the association installed a 48-niche columbarium in its Memorial Gardens Cemetery. A columbarium is a structure of vaults lined with recesses for cremated remains. Cremation is not intended to replace the elements of the traditional funeral. It is simply an alternative to earth burial or entombment. It provides an above ground entombment option, a clean and dry final resting space, easy to locate for year-round visitation and is affordable, the association reported.

The columbarium at Memorial Gardens Cemetery is clad with Rockville white granite, which is quarried and fabricated in Minnesota. It features Carnelian granite niche fronts to be memorialized with your loved one’s name and birth/death dates. The Carnelian granite is quarried in South Dakota and fabricated in Cold Spring. The unit will rest on a six-foot-deep base of durable concrete.

“The 6-foot caskets encased in concrete vaults buried 6-foot under in many cases are being replaced,” Lentz said. “Rather, the cremated remains of a person’s body are laid to rest in an urn and buried in a grave or placed in a columbarium niche.”

Evergreen Cemetery Association owns the 45-acre historical cemetery in Brainerd and 40 acres at Memorial Gardens at the east end of Wise Road a mile north of Brainerd on Crow Wing County Highway 3. It is a 134-year old, nonprofit corporation with offices in northeast Brainerd.

Lentz and Rusty Billman, superintendent, manage gravesites of nearly 21,580 burials and oversee records dating back to 1872 when Evergreen Cemetery was considered way out in the country. Today, the Brainerd site is expanding to the north with an eye to the future. An improvement project is underway at Memorial Gardens Cemetery which includes landscaping of the columbarium site to commence this year.

The columbarium installation is a part of a plan created two years ago by the nine-member board of directors. The nonprofit board operates with no financial assistance from any government entity relying wholly on lot sales, burial fees and donations. Its primary function is to maintain the grounds and assure the association meets the needs of the community in the future.

Sales of the columbarium niches have begun, according to John Boeder, president of the corporation. Prices are comparable to traditional burials, the association reported. For more information, contact Lentz at 829-5898 or email

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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