Mar 4, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff WriterLife as a cemetery sexton isn't for everybody. Jeff Hutchinson made a career of it.
For Hutchinson, developing a sense of empathy, diligence, determination and sensitivity with the families of his clients is what kept him employed for 35 years at the Mountain View Cemetery in Riverton.
Hutchinson was surrounded by family and friends as his service and retirement were celebrated Tuesday at the Reach Foundation.
The Mountain View Cemetery presented Hutchinson with a plaque for his 35 years of service to the district's patrons. Hutchinson worked at the cemetery from July 1, 1976, through last Wednesday, Feb. 29.
Hutchinson acquired the job after working as greenskeeper at the Riverton Country Club and being offered $300 a month more to work at Mountain View Cemetery.
When asked what the best part of the job was Hutchinson said, "I loved being able to work outside all the time. It was very refreshing."
Hutchinson was no stranger to peculiar moments.
"One time, I had a group of Satanists show up and ask if they could conduct a service at midnight on Halloween," Hutchinson said.
"I quickly informed them that the cemetery was closed after dark, and there would be no service held."
There were also requests for people to be buried atop their motorcycles, and many times Hutchinson chased children off the property after dark.
In the span of his career, Hutchinson buried roughly 3,500 people, averaging 100 burials a year.
"I think the toughest part of the job is comforting people who have lost infants, or close friends of mine that have died, and I have to help in the process of burying them," Hutchinson said. "Those are the tough moments that I don't really enjoy."
Funeral director Jamey Kirkland of the Davis Funeral Home in Riverton worked for Hutchinson for four summers when he was in high school and college.
"He inspired me to stay in the funeral business," Kirkland said. "He has a tremendous work ethic and does a great job of comforting people who have just lost a loved one, which is not an easy task."
Kirkland said Hutchinson has an impressive knowledge of the location of individual gravesites at the cemetery.
"Before he retired he wanted to make sure the new south edition of the cemetery was finished before he left, which shows what kind of person he is," Kirkland said.
Hutchinson said he hopes to spend his retirement travelling and doing things he wasn't able to do before.
He also wants to fish more. He asked those attending his retirement celebration to recommend other hobbies to try.
"I have really enjoyed working with the different cemetery boards over the years, and I have to say that Riverton people are great," Hutchinson said.
"When they come to me after having dealt with something tragic they are still pleasant to work with, and I think that speaks highly of this community. I have truly been blessed and wouldn't go back and change a thing."
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