BY STARRLA CRAY
DASSEL, MN “It’s something that’s new to the area here,” Dassel Cemetery Association member Jean Holm said, referring to a columbarium that’s planned for the Dassel Community Cemetery.
For those unfamiliar with the term, a columbarium is a free-standing structure designed to hold urns containing cremated remains.
In Dassel, the plan is to have 48 niches (small spaces) that can be personalized with the families’ wishes, such as photos, and dates of birth/death.
“It seems like more people are going for cremation now,” Holm said, noting that Litchfield and Hutchinson have columbariums, but many cities east of Dassel do not yet.
In the past 15 years, the cremation rate in the US has nearly doubled, according to the National Cremation Association.
In 2013, the last year complete data was available, the US cremation rate was 45.3 percent. By 2018, it’s projected to reach 50 percent.
According to the Dassel Cemetery Association, columbariums have several advantages over burial it’s not necessary to pay for grave digging, there is no need to purchase a grave site or headstone, and there is no grave to maintain.
In addition to cost advantages (each niche in Dassel will be available for between $700 to $900, plus optional engraving), the National Cremation Association notes that people also choose cremation as a way to start a new tradition, and to allow for personalization options.
Columbariums provide a unique place to remember loved ones. The Dassel Cemetery Association plans to create an area of serenity, with flowers, benches, and landscaping. The site was designed by Dassel/Cokato native Steve Dahlman.
Dassel cemetery history
The Dassel Community Cemetery dates back to July 1, 1876, when the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad deeded 29 acres of land to George E. Norton for $435, according to notes from the cemetery association.
Over the years, additional land has been added, including a one-acre donation in 2012 from an anonymous party.
After much discussion about how to best utilize the one-acre plot of land, the cemetery association decided on a columbarium, based on cremation’s increasing popularity.
How soon the columbarium will be in place depends on available funding. Monetary donations can be mailed to the Dassel Cemetery Association, c/o Elaine Kuester, 413 Circle View Dr., Dassel MN 55325.