The newly renovated shed at the cemetery in June 2021. Photo: Chas Hundley

Sandi Evans is theoretically retired, but her position as president of the Gales Creek Cemetery Association has kept her busy since her election to the position in May of 2020. 

Evans took over from past president JoAnne Schmidlin, who served in the position since 1982. 

“I’ve been up here almost every day,” Evans said during a recent conversation with the Gales Creek Journal. 

It shows. A number of projects have been completed or are in process. Among them, trees have been trimmed to increase parking space, new benches installed — some the result of an Eagle Scout project — and a new mapping system and gravesite listing established, all housed in a newly renovated outbuilding that visitors can now enter to locate the graves of their loved ones. 

A large lilac tree that had blocked a disused part of the only building at the cemetery that houses supplies and flower pots was trimmed back, and a door, locked for three decades was open. 

Inside the dimly lit room, Evans said, was a surprise. 

“We cleaned it out, and lo and behold, a concrete floor!” she said. 

The space was put to use. A window was installed to bring in more light, and a table was built by Evans’ husband — and fellow board member — Jim Evans. The aged roof was fixed and a skylight added in the back of the building to shed light on the stored flower pots inside. 

In the area with the concrete pad, visitors can now enter and flip through the new map and listings of all of the plots in the cemetery, a system that Sandi Evans built. A new bulletin board hangs on the wall.

The newly installed map and plot listings in June 2021. Photo: Chas Hundley

More is planned for the building. In the works is a fresh coat of the same red paint that covers the wood structure, and a sliding door in the style of a barn door is planned. 

All of the work — largely completed by volunteers like Evans — has some cost to it, including the regular maintenance of the grounds. Funds come from plot sales — the oldest plot dates from 1874 — and from donations. Evans said that yearly costs come to around $6,000.

Donations can be made by mailing a check to Gales Creek Cemetery Association, 10735 NW Thornburg Road, Gales Creek OR 97117.

In December of 2020, a large oak tree fell on the cemetery grounds, and Evans found herself learning a new skill set. 

“You took over the president job, but you didn’t know you were going to be a logger,” she quipped. 

The Gales Creek Cemetery is located at 7675 NW Soda Springs Road in Gales Creek.

Editor’s note: The author of this story is related to several Gales Creek Cemetery Association board members, including Sandi Evans.