Fairmount Memorial Association Strives For Self-Sufficiency
Non-Profit Has Many Divisions To Meet Customer Needs
The Fairmount Memorial Association is a non-profit, lot-owner owned family of five cemeteries and one funeral home offering cemetery and cremation options. Their business model is quite unique in the industry, in that they strive to be in control of their future by being self-sufficient and operating various business divisions that can supply all of their needs. To that end, their operations include a burial container manufacturing division, a monument division, a funeral home and crematorium, and a “store front” cremation outlet. They also own 650 acres of land with slightly less than 300 developed. Given these assets, they are well set for whatever the future brings.
The cemeteries in their organizations include Greenwood Memorial Terrace, Fairmount Memorial Park, Riverside Memorial Park, Spokane Memorial Gardens, and Woodlawn Cemetery. Each of the cemeteries began as a private enterprise, but most ran into financial difficulties and eventually were acquired by the Association.
Greenwood Memorial Terrace’s beginnings trace clear back to 1888. Those who know Spokane’s history will recognize the names of the cemetery founders, A.M. Cannon and his partner J.J. Browne, as figures that also loom large in the birth of Spokane.
Many of Spokane’s pioneer settlers are resting at Greenwood, including: A.M. Cannon, James Glover, Amasa Campbell, Reverend H.T. Cowley, The Cowles Family, Jimmie Dirken, Chief Spokane Garry, Eugene Enloe, Civil War Veteran Daniel Oliver and many others.
The cemetery has a cannon on display from The Spanish American War which is one of only three brought back to the U.S. from the Philippines after the war.
Fairmount Memorial Park also traces back to 1888 and early in its history was known as the Pioneer Cemetery. Prominent historical figures buried there include such notables as Levi and May Arkwright Hutton, Senator C.C. Dill, Catherine Sager Pringle, J.J. Browne, Willie Willey, Lincoln’s bodyguard Frank Johnson, D.C. Corbin, Patsy Clark, Ensign Monaghan, and many more.
Fairmount was also the first Catholic cemetery in Spokane. In July 1888, Father Cataldo established a large Catholic section on the grounds which was used until Holy Cross Cemetery opened.
Riverside Memorial Park opened in 1907, but not as a cemetery. It was part of a speculative land development put together by John A. Finch, W.H. Cowles and their partners. The Riverside Park Cemetery Association was a spin-off business started in 1914 by Finch, T.J. Meenach and others. It became Riverside Memorial Park around 1962. Notable citizens buried there include John A. Finch, Louis Davenport, Robert Strahorn, August Paulsen, and Washington State Governor Marion Hay.
The entrance of Riverside, known as Rose Circle, has won both regional and international Masonry Institute awards for its interpretation of the original Kirtland Cutter entrance design.
Heritage Funeral Home and Crematory, a subsidiary of The Fairmount Memorial Association, was built in 1995 on the grounds of Riverside Memorial Park.
Spokane Memorial Gardens was formed in January 1953. The Northern Pacific Railroad originally owned the land when Fred and Hilda Collins purchased it and founded the cemetery as Northwest Memorial Gardens. Collins was also the owner and developer of Skyline Memorial Gardens in Portland, OR.
Woodlawn Cemetery is another pioneer cemetery. This two-acre cemetery was founded in 1888 by the Methodist Church and was originally known as Englewood Cemetery. The name was eventually changed to Englewood-Woodlawn. It was abandoned by the church and finally taken over by Spokane County. It was badly neglected until 2000 when Edgecliff SCOPE volunteers persuaded the county to deed the property to Fairmount Memorial Association with the promise that Fairmount would turn it into a viable cemetery operation. Since gaining control of the cemetery, the Association has changed the name to Woodlawn, installed an irrigation system, planted new lawns and a garden and completed the first phase of an ongoing development program.
Formation Of Non-Profit Association Solves Financial Difficulties
Many of the cemeteries faced difficult financial times as the years passed. By the 1940’s, Fairmount was failing and had become an overgrown weed patch. It went into receivership in 1945 and re-emerged as a non-profit lot-owner association in 1946. A host of prominent citizens were instrumental in saving the cemetery. Greenwood and Riverside were both in financial trouble in 1970 when Fairmount Memorial Park stepped in to purchase them in January 1971. Spokane Memorial Gardens was also purchased by Fairmount in 1973 as part of a settlement with the IRS.
*Special thanks to Fairmount Memorial Association for their cooperation in compiling this article.