Memory Gardens under new ownershipWORTHINGTON — A change in ownership of Memory Gardens, Inc., in five area counties will bring some noticeable changes in coming months.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — A change in ownership of Memory Gardens, Inc., in five area counties will bring some noticeable changes in coming months.
The business, which includes cemeteries in Worthington, Luverne, Slayton, Windom and Spirit Lake, Iowa, recently changed hands, allowing former owners Gary Ewert and Bertha Houtsma to retire, and new owners Barb and Steve Bents to begin a new business venture.
Steve, who has 15 employees and 16 trucks in the fleet of Steve Bents Trucking, said the new venture provided a new opportunity for his wife. She recently lost her job with Nobles County after the restructuring of the public health department.
Barb is now working full-time, along with her sister, Tammy Lundergard, at the Memory Gardens office, which is located in the Worthington Memorial Gardens cemetery along Nobles County 35 west of town.
Among the first tasks to be undertaken by the new owners is to lift, straighten and level all of the headstones in each of the five cemeteries. Steve said two individuals have been hired for the job, which will occur this summer.
Three employees will perform groundskeeping duties at the cemeteries, and two additional employees have been hired to assist with burials.
Maintaining the cemeteries is just a small portion of the business at Memory Gardens, however. The business offers a full line of products, from monuments and markers to vaults, and can help individuals plan their burial service, right down to the flowers and other details.
“We sell stones and upright monuments and markers that can be placed in any cemetery,” said Barb.
Worthington Memorial Gardens is the largest cemetery of the five Memory Gardens locations, spanning 10 acres in size. It, along with each of the four other cemeteries, has at least 2 acres of undeveloped plots. The Worthington site also has a columbarium to store urns.
“We carry a wide variety of cremation vaults and sell traditional vaults as well,” said Steve.
Memory Gardens has a full-time salesperson, Jodie Crowell, and plans are to eventually add another salesperson to the roster. Crowell can be reached at (507) 822-3152.
Steve, whose trucking business includes the hauling of aggregates, said he will be able to utilize some of the same equipment for the cemetery. A new mini-excavator and skid loader were purchased for Memory Gardens.
As the Bents’ settle in as new owners of Memory Gardens, they are planning open houses in each of the communities they serve. The first open house is planned Monday, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Pizza Ranch in Luverne. On Tuesday, they will be at the Pizza Ranch in Spirit Lake from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.; and on Wednesday they will be at the Country Host in Slayton from 2 to 4:30 p.m. An open house in Windom is planned from 1:30 to 4 p.m. April 30, at River City Eatery.
An open house at the Worthington Memorial Gardens office has yet to be scheduled, but is planned for early May.
Ewert and Houtsma had owned Memorial Gardens since June 2004, following the death of previous owner, Del Lindstrom. Houtsma had worked at the Worthington office since 1983; and Ewert had been employed there since 1998.
Memory Gardens, Inc., was established in 1957 by Norman and Ina Hanson, and the Bents are now the sixth owners to take over the operation. Office hours at Worthington Memorial Gardens are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with evening and weekend hours by appointment. People may reach Memory Gardens by calling 376-6129 or 1-800-306-2906.