Governance of the Cemetery
During the 120-plus year history of the Fairfield Cemetery, the maintenance and management of the cemetery has been the responsibility of an association of the cemetery lot owners, and or the Town of Fairfield. Since its inception, both the town and the lot owners have held the title to the cemetery property for periods of time. The association of lot owners has operated under different titles over the years. In l913 the Bradshaw’s deeded the cemetery to the Altruist Lodge 73, International Order of Odd Fellows, who managed it for a period of time and then deeded the cemetery to the Town. During this period, three Town Council members were appointed by the Mayor of Fairfield to manage the cemetery. In l955 an association of lot owners was formed and the Town deeded the Cemetery back to the association. From l958 – l974 the cemetery was owned and operated by the association of lot owners who formed the Rock Creek Valley Township. They appointed a board of four to manage the Cemetery and later changed the name of the cemetery to the “Fairview Cemetery.” In 1974 the State of Washington dissolved all townships and the deed for the cemetery was transferred back to the Town and the cemetery was renamed the Fairfield Cemetery. The members of the Rock Creek Valley Township reorganized and changed their name once again to the Fairfield Cemetery Association, the name that is used today. They continue to work with the Town to provide maintenance for the cemetery. In l997 Ordinance #262 was prepared and adopted by the town of Fairfield and the Fairfield Cemetery Association. This is the current legal and binding ordinance that is still in effect today and it outlines the working agreement between the Town and the Fairfield Cemetery Association.
The Fairfield Cemetery Association, who works with the Mayor and Town Council to coordinate the management and maintenance of the Cemetery, are lot owners who operate under by-laws adopted by their Association. The Cemetery Association is governed by a five member board who reports their activities to the cemetery association at their annual meeting each May and to the Mayor and Council of the Town once a year.
For the first eighty years most of the work at the cemetery was completed by volunteers who were lot owners or family members of those interred there. Over these many years the association of lot owners often struggled to secure the needed funds for items that could not be donated because of the limited financial resources available for Cemetery maintenance. In the 1970’s the Association found it was becoming more difficult to get people to volunteer to do the all of the required maintenance work at the cemetery on a regular and dependable basis. Further, family members of those interred had moved from the area and weren’t available to complete maintenance on their families plots. The Cemetery Association realized that they must begin to develop an endowed fund to provide a continuous and dependable source of income that would be large enough to hire the needed labor to provide quality and reliable ongoing maintenance for the cemetery without concerns for liability or equipment repair. In the l970’s, Joe Fulton volunteered to mow the grass and maintain the grounds at no charge and did so for more than 20 years. During this period, June Fulton organized records and wrote letters to lot owners seeking donations to expand the fund. The donations were deposited into a savings account at the Bank of Fairfield (later sold to Inland Northwest Bank, (INB)) toward a goal of building a permanent fund that was large enough to generate enough interest each year to cover all of the costs involved in hiring ongoing maintenance for the cemetery. During some years when the interest rates were higher, the Cemetery Board was able to return a portion of the interest to the corpus because it was not needed that year for maintenance and with the donations, and the corpus increased, which further secured the future of the cemetery. The Cemetery Fund at INB provides an annual interest income that is used each year to provide support for basic cemetery maintenance.
In 1996 an endowed fund, the “Fairfield Cemetery Fund” was established at Inland Northwest Community Foundation in honor of Joe and June Fulton, on their 80th birthdays, and the many other volunteers who had supported the cemetery in a variety of ways over the past 100 plus years, by their daughter, Cheryl Fulton Fischer. Many donated to this fund that is managed by the Foundation and endowed, so only the interest can be spent on cemetery maintenance. Each year the Foundation makes the annual interest earned on this permanent endowed cemetery fund available to the Town of Fairfield to provide additional support for the ongoing basic maintenance of the cemetery. The combined interest earned from the two endowed funds has been enough to cover the expenses for mowing and basic care of the cemetery at no cost to the Town.
Over the past 100 years, association members have been prudent stewards of the cemetery and, because of their struggles over many years to maintain the cemetery with inadequate funding, understood that the corpus of this fund must be kept secure with only the interest used each year for cemetery maintenance. These farsighted managers of the cemetery have never added a source of water to the cemetery because they realized that even if they were able to raise the large sum needed for the initial investment for drilling and installing a water system, they could not afford the ongoing increased maintenance costs that would result from watering the cemetery. These increased costs would include maintaining and repairing of the water system as well as providing additional mowing and pruning for the increased lawn and tree growth that a water system would promote. The lot owners knew these increased costs would be beyond the annual interest income they had available for maintenance on a long-term basis. Because of their conservative and responsible leadership and decisions to develop the two endowed funds through discipline, dedication, and hard work over many years, the annual interest payments cover the cost of ongoing maintenance to this day.
Aggressive fundraising campaigns and requests for donations from the members of the Fairfield Cemetery Association from 2009-2017 helped address a number of greatly needed capital improvements and larger renovation or restoration projects that could not be covered by the limited annual interest income from the two accounts. These projects included restoring the antique gates, renovating the storage building on the property, resurfacing the roads in the cemetery, and removing some dead trees, planting new trees, and trimming more than100 trees on the property. The preservation of these two cemetery funds along with donations helps insure the preservation of this beautiful resting place and important community historical site long into the future.
The Town council currently holds the deed to the Fairfield Cemetery and is the legal authority for the Fairfield Cemetery while the Fairfield Cemetery Association, through its long and prudent stewardship and conservative management over many years, has insured that the Cemetery is well maintained; is not an expense or financial liability to the Town; and is managed in such a way that we can afford to maintain the cemetery into perpetuity.
We are proud of the community’s rich history of working together and sharing responsibility to preserve and maintain the Fairfield Cemetery. The present appearance and financial stability of the Fairfield Cemetery is credit and satisfaction to our residents.