With her home all the way in Alpine, California, 72-year-old Connie Morse can’t often visit the graves of her parents, who were both laid to rest in the Sumner Cemetery.
But thanks to the cemetery’s annual wreath service, there is a way Morse can show she’s thinking of her parents during the holiday season.
Every year in December, family and friends who are interested can order wreaths to be placed on headstones and grave markers of their loved ones.
“It’s a great program for those of us who do not live (in the area) any longer, and we live so far away that it’s not feasible to go back (to Sumner),” Morse said.
It’s a great program for those of us who do not live (in the area) any longer, and we live so far away that it’s not feasible to go back there.
The 20-inch mixed fir wreaths are placed by cemetery employees. They make sure to let family know that the wreath has been placed by either sending a notification or — in Morse’s case — a picture of the wreath.
“What they do is they email (a picture) to me and I can share it with my brothers,” Morse said. “I just got the email with the picture that shows the tombstone and shows the wreath on it.”
Morse has been buying wreath for years, ever since her mother passed away in May 2012.
“I started shortly after that,” she said. “I probably started that December after she passed away. It’s been several years — four or five years. It’s just so nice.”
Morse’s parents owned a farm in Sumner, then moved to South Hill and lived in a mobile home. Morse grew up in the area, even graduating from Puyallup High School in 1962. She went to work in Hawaii and eventually married her husband, who was in the U.S. Navy. She moved around a lot, ending up in California. Her father passed away in 1990.
Morse’s younger twin brothers lived in Washington, but eventually they moved, and there was no one left to visit the cemetery to bring flowers. Years later, she would hear about the wreath service.
The service first started some 15 years ago, according to a retired cemetarian who used to work at the Sumner Cemetery, and was modeled after a similar idea at a Tacoma cemetery. The service continued as family — both in the area and outside — wanted to buy the wreaths.
It does make (the cemetery) look festive. It cheers it up a little bit and adds a little color with the wreaths and pine cones. It’s just an overall good feeling.
Scott Decarteret, cemetery administrative manager
Cemetery administrative manager Scott Decarteret has been working at the cemetery for two years and says the sales have stayed steady, with about 120 wreaths sold last year and around 100 pre-ordered for this year.
“It’s a cool service that is offered,” Decarteret said. “It’s mostly people out of town who can’t come to the cemetery on a regular basis.”
But those who want to come and place the wreaths are more than welcome, added Decarteret.
This year, the cemetery ordered the wreaths from a new vendor: Turnbull Evergreens in Tacoma. They even came with red bows for no extra charge.
“It does make (the cemetery) look festive,” Decarteret said. “It cheers it up a little bit and adds a little color with the wreaths and pine cones. It’s just an overall good feeling.”
With the service gaining interest of family, Decarteret says cemetery employees are thinking of launching a similar program during Memorial Day weekend.
Those interested in purchasing wreaths can contact Decarteret for details at firstname.lastname@example.org. Wreaths cost $25 each while supplies last.