Cemetery Updating Services
By Steve Johnson
June 21, 2002
Debbie Wiczek, owner of Cemetery
Updating Services, may be the only person in the world who makes
a career out of recording cemeteries.
Twelve years ago, Debbie Wiczek had visited a cemetery in search
of the grave of her friend's father, who had died during the Korean
War. Her friend was never able to attend his father's funeral because
he had been overseas during the war, and when he returned home he
never bothered visiting his father's grave.
When Debbie and her friend inquired at the cemetery office about
the location of the grave, it took the office over 30 minutes to
locate the record, and then handed them a bad photocopy of a very
After finding the grave, Debbie stopped by the office and handed
them her business card. At the time, she was operating her own drafting/design
business for the home construction industry. She let them know that
she could help them with their maps. Later that week, the cemetery
called her to do just that. Thus was born a new business venture
for Debbie, "Cemetery Updating Services".
"We've done business with close to 150 cemeteries by now",
says Debbie. "We do business from coast to coast".
Cemetery Updating Services provides cemeteries with the following
- Gathers all interment records, and publishes them in a water-resistant
- Creates a map of the cemetery, including maps of burials
- Provides a Compact Disc (CD-ROM) of all interment records and
- Updates and corrects records as needed
- Provide multiple copies of materials as needed
In addition, all records are organized as follows:
- Alphabetically by name
- Numerically by location
- Chronologically by date of death
- Alphabetical and Numerical listing of lot owners
- Alphabetical and Numerical listing of veterans
The work that she does for each cemetery is a three-phase process:
For Phase One, the cemetery provides her with all of their records
and maps. She enters the records into a database and re-draws the
maps. She note any discrepancies that were found in the records
and draws the maps so that each burial can be seen at a glance,
including which graves are empty but sold and which graves are still
for sale. When this process is completed, all new maps and records
are printed and compiled into a book.
Phase Two involves visting the cemetery grounds, measuring off
the graves, combining information from the headstones with the records
provided by the cemetery, and making corrections. When Phase Two
is completed and the corrections to be made are indicated on the
records and maps, the cemetery personnel may update the records
themselves or send them back to Debbie for updating.
During Phase Three, all the corrections that were indicated in
Phase Two are made to the records and maps. Then, the book and maps
are re-printed, and everything is returned to the cemetery. When
this process is completed, the cemetery records are as correct as
Debbie explains that Cemetery Updating Services archives all of
its work so that it can be reprinted on demand: "Often cemeteries
have only one copy of their records and are very vulnerable to fire
or other disasters. After the above process is completed, the data
is archived. If because of catastrophe, and all of the records are
destroyed or damaged, the maps and records can be reproduced. Also,
because of the 8½" X 11" format, the maps and records can be easily
and inexpensively duplicated for extra copies or for resale."
While many cemeteries today are switching over from paper to computer
records, Debbie explains that the services her company provides
can save them from having to make such expensive computer purchases:
"With our service, it is not necessary for a cemetery to expend
the money to own and maintain expensive computer equipment and computer
trained people to maintain records. However, if they have the computer
capability, they can maintain records themselves as new information
can be easily added to the original records. With our service, the
record efficiency allows them to better manage their assets and
makes them better able to track saleable burial sites and lot inactivity.
The accessibility and convenience of the information is invaluable."
Debbie relies mostly upon calling cemeteries to find out if they
are in need of services. Sometimes business comes from referrals,
and sometimes it comes from her company website.
Is there a career on the horizon for other people who visit cemeteries
and compile records? If you're dedicated enough, and are willing
to work hard to succeed, the answer is "yes". One of the
benefits is that you get to travel all over the country, as Debbie
is constantly travelling from coast to coast, compiling cemetey
- Steve Paul Johnson
Debbie can be contacted from her website: http://www.cemeteryrecordservices.com