Category Archives: Calumet Park Cemetery

The day my dead dad saved my life….

It was an early June day in 1971.  Dad died in 1960 when I was but a boy of 11.

In May of 1971, I finished up my second tour of duty in Vietnam with the Green Berets, 5th Special Forces Group.  I was 22 then, going on 60.  This is not a story of Vietnam so much but how my Dad rescued me from thoughts of suicide.  Stay with me as this story has a happy ending.

Fresh home from the war, my war, as most people who have served have tattooed to their soul who have experienced man’s inhumanity to man up close and personal.  I joined the military in 1968, gung ho to save the world from communism.  I was an innocent, a person whose life was pretty simple up to those Vietnam days.  Post-Vietnam, I returned to my small-town life in upstate New York a changed person.

I was hardened by the things that I saw and things that I did and things that kept me awake at night.  I wanted to be a kid again, and have the experiences of the jungle sucked from my brain.  I felt like my insides were trying to run away from my body.  Anxiety, and what is now better known at PTSD gave me panic attacks.  I had disturbing thoughts and feelings and nightmares.

Before Vietnam, I was all over the God thing.  I believed in all the stories of the bible and all the wonders of Jesus that the nuns and priests brainwashed into us Catholic school kids.  For me, I attended Catholic school my entire life, so I was on board with God and heaven and hell and purgatory, venial sins and mortal sins, and what life was supposed to be about.

Except life away from the good ‘ol U.S of A. did not fit the mold.  So, the day came when I was going to stop running from the ghosts that haunted me every day.  I decided to go to St. Bonaventure Cemetery and tell Dad I was done with it all.  Life, as I could see it at that time, was too much.  I just wanted the pain to stop.  I found his grave and sat with my guitar.  And I talked to him.  I poured out my pain and sorrow and fears and dread.  I prayed that if there was a God, that it was time to prove it because I did not want to live any more.

Miraculously, a peace came over me.  It was almost like a movie flashing through my brain. All the good memories, the pre-war memories, flooded my body and took away my thoughts of suicide.  Dad was there and he saved me.  Dad and God.  Maybe Dad was God and God was Dad.  All I know is that having a place to go where I knew my Dad was at gave me physical, mental, and emotional strength to look for the good in life.

I have always been grateful that Mom laid him to rest at a cemetery as it offered a place for me to go to, and to contemplate life.  I truly believe that everyone should have that same feeling of being able to visit those people that were important to us in life.  I don’t get back to New York much lately, but it gives me peace just to know that Dad is there when I need him.  Even today, from many miles away from his grave, I can transport my being to his gravesite and hear him and God whisper of the glories of life and afterlife.  And what is that worth in silver and gold?

For information on preplanning, call 219-769-8803 or stop by the cemetery.  Its costs nothing to be educated.

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Final Arrangements…and I do mean final!

Regardless of whether one prearranges for their cemetery and funeral needs (advance planning) or leaves such arrangements to those left behind (at-need), this article will offer some basic guidelines.  When friends, relatives or new acquaintances find out that I work at a cemetery, the questions come with the main question being, “How much does it cost?”

To answer this question, I would have to ask a lot of questions in return, throwing the hot potato back at them.  “How much does a house cost, or a car, or an engagement ring or even something as simple as a dozen eggs.”  What is this guy talking about?  Take the eggs, for example.  Are they plain old, average sized eggs?  Are they jumbo sized?  Are they from free range chickens?  And that is just trying to get to the answer of how much do eggs cost.

A better approach to the question of the price of a funeral and cemetery arrangements is to let a person know that they should not spend any more than is necessary to meet their needs, or their budget.  And a budget is a funny thing as it was just proven during the government shut-down that most Americans are but a couple of paychecks away from being unable to meet their financial needs.  Sadly, a great many of the people that come to us unprepared are shocked at the cost of dying.  They lose the luxury of choice.  If one does not have pre-needed their cemetery and funeral arrangements, have guaranteed insurance money to be available when they die, or they outlive their income, or if they have huge medical bills that empty the money stash set aside for a rainy day, they are out of luck.

So, setting the actual cost aside, lets explore all that is necessary to make complete cemetery and funeral arrangements.  By the way, when it comes to funerals, the Federal Trade Commission requires funeral homes give you a copy of their price list when at a funeral home in person, or give you pricing on the phone when asked.

First, what do you want?  Do you want traditional ground burial at a cemetery?  If so, you will need a grave space, an outer container that the casket goes in, and an opening/closing of the grave.  In addition, most people that select ground burial want to place an above ground monument or at least flush memorials that mark the location of a loved one forever.

At the funeral home, most people that choose ground burial want to have a visitation with viewing followed by a funeral committal service at their cemetery.  A committal service is when you commit your loved one to a final resting place.  In Indiana, a funeral director must be present any time a burial takes place with people gathered to say goodbye.  For a funeral service with visitation, a casket would be necessary.  Also, supporting products go hand-in-hand when a funeral is arranged which may include a register book for guests to sign in, prayer cards and envelopes, flowers and quite often, food and drinks.

When you add all of these things together, the average cost of cemetery and funeral goods and services is around $12-$15,000.  Think of planning a wedding, and all of the costs involved.  From a venue, to rings, to wedding dress and attire for the wedding party, to food and music and photography, to guest lists and places for them to stay, to invitations and more.  Most weddings today run $20,000 and more…generally, a lot more.

A wedding is one of life’s biggest events and the final “biggest event” is one’s funeral.  There are many of the same types of things to arrange as a wedding.  The venue (what funeral home and what cemetery), the announcement (obituary), clothing for the decedent and for family that plan on attending, to music and clergy and on-and-on.  Now days, people want a funeral to be an experience and not just a cookie-cutter service that is just like every other funeral they have ever attended.

There will be a lifetime of grieving and learning to live without the deceased loved one.  A funeral is meant as a chance to gather with friends and family and celebrate the life that was lived.  When a person passes, they do not just disappear from the world and from our memories.  We all have a circle of friends and family that will also be grieving and that need a chance to say goodbye.  Believe me, there is nothing that shouts louder that a parent or child or spouse or friend is gone than to see them lying in state.

Arrangements that funeral homes and cemeteries provide are based on the cumulative needs of any given population.  In NW Indiana, seventy percent of the population still want a traditional funeral service followed by interment or entombment in a cemetery.  The other 30% select cremation.  Sometimes cremation is chosen because of money, sometimes for religious reasons and sometimes for ecological reasons.  Regardless, many of those that go with cremation still want and still need a chance to say a proper goodbye.  For those folks, they still want a traditional funeral service with all the trappings, to be followed by cremation.

Once the cremation is complete, the cremains (ashes) will be returned to the family for final disposition.  That can be as simple as keeping them at home, or letting them blow in the wind, or scattered over Lake Michigan.  But so many people have a need to be able to know where their loved one will be for eternity and want a place of peace and reverence that they can visit when the need arises “just to be near” their loved one.

Calumet Park, recent winner of the best cemetery in the country for 2018, has many, many possibilities that meet the needs, the wants and the pocket book of all who come to us.

Rather than try to make a list of meaningless pricing, you are invited to stop in at your convenience and one of our funeral directors or one of our family service people will be happy to take you on a tour of our facilities, and answer all of your questions.  In addition, they can tailor an event, whether grandiose or simple, and give you exact pricing.  It would be then in your hands to decide if you wanted to prearrange and freeze the price or go home and at least know what you would be up against financially to get what will best meet your needs.

Call 219-769-8803 to arrange a personal meeting with one of our professional staff members.  And remember that is better to have your arrangements and not need them than to need them and not be able to afford them.

 

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This is what -18 looked like on January 31, 2019 at the #1 Cemetery in the country…

Just before sunrise at Calumet Park Cemetery at the corner of 73rd and Taft in Merrillville, IN.

One of the local newspapers called the other day as they were planning to run a story about what cemeteries do when it is this cold out.  In talking with Tim McClure, the grounds superintendent for over 14 years and employee for over 32, the answer is much like the line made famous in the baseball movie: “build it and they will come”.  In other words, Calumet Park has never been unavailable for a burial, regardless of the weather.  If a family wants a funeral regardless of the weather, Calumet Park will meet their needs.  That is not to say that the weather hasn’t caused some families to hold off for a burial until better conditions arrived.  The same philosophy applies to our three funeral homes.  Call for more info or if you have any questions.  We are here to serve.   

 

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Life…a poem from Diane Zych printed with her permission

Diane Zych wrote a very beautiful poem that she is willing to share with our readers.  She was blessed with a 50 year marriage and lost her sweet and loving husband this past year.

   Life

It is said that man is destined to die

     from the moment of his birth.

But though I may try, I can not deny

     life’s merriment and mirth.

I have spent hours praising intoxicating flowers,

     and toasting the sinuous sun.

As the moon brightens, my inebriation heightens,

     in celebration of the day that is done.

So I shall be fanciful, lighthearted and gay

     and rejoice in the miracle of life.

For all too soon will come the day

     I shall be sobered by Death’s summoning fife.

Thank you for sharing these meaningful words.

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Calumet Park Funeral Chapel in Hobart (just before the Apple Orchard) on County Line Road sponsored wonderful angel tree lighting ceremony on December 8th…

Calumet Park Funeral Chapel in Hobart held its first annual Angel Tree Lighting Ceremony.  It was well attended with over 100 people sharing an afternoon of music, remembrances, good fellowship and the hanging of the angels of a loved one on the angel tree.

This event was guided by funeral home supervisor Violet de la Torre-Corona and assistant Mike Poweska.

Hope to see you all again next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merrillville High School Vocal Teens led by Choral Director Melinda Reinhart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Calumet Park Cemetery, Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville Indiana, Calumet Park Funeral Chapel in Merrillville Indiana, Calumet Park Funeral Chapel of Hobart and Portage, Events, feature stories, Rendina Funeral Home, Uncategorized

Calumet Park Funeral Chapel in Merrillville hosts 14th annual Angel Tree Lighting Service on December 1…

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Rendina Funeral Home holds its 4th Annual Angel Tree Lighting ceremony on November 29…nice gathering of families

Michelle Hanrahan, Funeral Director and Funeral Home Supervisor reading names for people to place angels on tree.

Paul Vogel, President and CEO of Calumet Park, sharing a seasonal message.

Brant Vogel singing “Golden Threads”.

The Vogel brothers: Brant, Paul and Rob

Harpist Renee Wilson

Kim Jones and Michelle Hanrahan

Matt Hahn

Raquel Santos, Funeral Director (sorry, not able to turn pic)

Carl Paunicka, Matt Hanh, Kim Jones and Michelle Hanrahan

Raquel Santos, Marcia Ochoa and Barb Fedorchak

Barb Fedorchak

Board Members: Kim Jones, Carl Paunicka, Paul Vogel and Rob Vogel

    

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Top cemetery in the country awarded to Calumet Park Cemetery from American Cemetery and Cremation magazine…

ACE Winner  Click here for the article announcing Calumet Park Cemetery as the winner of the best cemetery in the country.  Thanks to all the employees and owners of Calumet Park Cemetery.  It is due to the dedication and true spirit of service to our neighbors that inspires the Calumet team to be the best.  Like the Wizard of Oz, we always knew that we had a brain, a heart and courage, and now we have bragging rights that our feelings about what we do is officially recognized.   Calumet Park has received runner-up awards a number of times so it is appreciated to be the recipient of this honor from the American Cemetery and Cremation magazine (celebrating their 90th anniversary just as Calumet Park Cemetery is doing the same…both founded in 1928).

For info on prearranging you cemetery and funeral needs, call 219-769-8803.

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Filed under About Us, Calumet Park Cemetery, Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville Indiana, Calumet Park Funeral Chapel in Merrillville Indiana, Calumet Park Funeral Chapel of Hobart and Portage, Calumet Park Funeral Home, Cremation, feature stories, Funeral home, Rendina Funeral Home, veterans at calumet Park cemetery

Thoughtful letter of thanks from a family served by Calumet Park Cemetery…

 

Meditation Pond niches for final placement of cremains.

The following letter was received from a sweet lady after the placement of her loving husband in the new niche bank on the north shore of the Meditation Pond at Calumet Park Cemetery.  This letter is included in this facebook entry, not as a way to give special credit to Dan because he was just being Dan.  It is here because we all need to be reminded that love like this exists, is real and the loss is felt so deeply.  All of the staff at Calumet Park helps people every day of the year, whether our funeral home staff, office people, family service department or the people that oversee the grounds.  Permission was granted to put this letter on Calumet Park’s facebook page.

November 20, 2018

Board of Directors

Calumet Park Cemetery

2305 West 73rd Avenue

Merrillville, Indiana 46410

 

Dear Board Members,

I needn’t tell you as members of the Board of Directors of Calumet Park Cemetery that losing a loved one, any loved one, is one of life’s most painful and stressful experiences.  However, losing someone that I loved as passionately as I did my late husband brought agonizing pain for which I was totally unprepared even though I knew of the unthinkable for the previous fifteen months.  Thankfully I received and continue to receive consolation and support from dear family members and friends.

Occasionally someone new to me provided solace as well.  One such person is a dedicated and sensitive employee of yours, Dan Moran.  I met Dan briefly on my first visit to the cemetery.  He stepped into the office where I was completing paperwork, introduced himself, and provided me with a business card.  I am so incredibly thankful that he did.  I contacted him a few days later to voice a concern but couldn’t initially speak through a deluge of tears.  Dan was genuinely impacted, and after speaking with him, I sensed his sincerity and that he would absolutely resolve any issue I identified.  And of course he did.

One issue that I will be eternally grateful to him and the Board is understanding how important it was to me, to us, that the inscription, “With all my love, always” be included on our niches.  Joe signed hundreds of cards and letters using these five words for 56 years.  Those five words reflect a love story the depth of which is difficult to express, let alone explain.  Five words, two lives, one love.

I wish to commend Dan for the tender and professional manner in which he conducted himself each time we met or spoke.  He is, needless to say, an incredible asset to Calumet Park Cemetery.  Whoever had the foresight and insight to hire him also needs to be commended.

Sincerely,

Diane Z.

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Fall is in the air at Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville…see below for upcoming events

Good week for colored leaf watching at Calumet Park.

It is a beautiful fall day in Merrillville.  Below are some random shots of Calumet Park Cemetery at the corner of 73rd and Taft in Merrillville, Indiana.  From atop the hill of crosses, it feels like the property is endless.  There are over 400 acres of land owned by Calumet Park, with 170 developed.  There are thousands of graves available from all price ranges in the area that is currently developed.  At approximately 1100 burials per acre and at the current rate of usage, Calumet Park has land for close to 550 years.  This means that it is OK to not worry about using up all the land.  In fact, there are seven different possibilities for permanent placement of cremains, along with private and community mausoleums, flush bronze on granite sections, flush granite sections, above ground monument sections and so much more.

Meditation Pond with fountain, bridge, niches, waterfalls and gazebo.

Crucifixion monument at Priest’s Circle.

Meditation Pond Niches which allow etchings of loved ones on the niche fronts.

Meditation Waterfalls.

Meditation Pond with fountain and bridge.

Meditation Pond fountain,.

First of many planned signs that will be placed around the cemetery describing features and history of the cemetery.

Monument memorializing the lost souls of American Eagle crash on Halloween night so many years ago.

Garden surrounding the American Eagle Memorial is designed in the shape of an angel if seen from above. Shown is the left wing.

Monument with names of all whose lives were cut short on that cold and wet evening.

Right wing of angel.

Some of the names of those unfortunate souls.

American flag at the SE corner of the Veteran Section (Section 17)

Crosses on the Hill…first phase of this holy place.

Standing beneath the crosses and looking north. Notice all the land space for future development as needed.

Looking N/NE from the hill.

Write your own thought or prayer as you view this photo.

Hundreds of acres of undeveloped land looking west from atop the hill.

Look S/SW from atop the hill.

Mark you calendars for Veterans Day, November 11 at 11:00 a.m. for a Memorial Service for veterans. Call 769-8803 for details.

November 29 will be the Angel Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rendina Funeral Chapel  from 6-8 p.m. (call early to reserve your angel and come early to have time to pick up your angel before the ceremony begins.  Call 980-1141 for details.

December 1 will be the Angel Tree Lighting Ceremony at Merrillvile Funeral Chapel and will be from 3-5 p.m..  Try to come early to get your angel and to get good seats. Call 736-5840 for details.

December 8 will be the Angel Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Hobart Chapel on County Line Road in Hobart near the Apple Orchard.  The time for this event will be from 3-5 p.m. Call 940-3791 for details.

Call now to reserve your angel.

Happy thanksgiving to all.  You are all appreciated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Calumet Park Cemetery, Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville Indiana, Calumet Park Funeral Chapel in Merrillville Indiana, Calumet Park Funeral Chapel of Hobart and Portage, Calumet Park Funeral Home, event, Events, Rendina Funeral Home, Uncategorized, veterans at calumet Park cemetery, veterans day ceremony