Soft-spoken Assistant Cemetery Manager Troy Rodriquez walks me through the grounds on a sunny, snowy afternoon. He has worked for the City of Golden for over 30 years. He studied criminal justice, wanting to become a police officer but was swayed in a different direction after a summer job at the cemetery. He says, “I enjoyed it so much out here, and I felt like I was helping people in a different way.”
“This job is a little bit of everything, selling grave spaces, setting up funerals, conducting the funerals, digging the graves, pouring the concreate for the foundations and, until recently, all of the grounds work, " says Troy. “When I started here, there were three full time people and five seasonals, and then it went down to just two of us full-time.”
Before COVID, the Golden Cemetery was doing around 100-150 burials a year. When COVID started, deaths due to the infection, suicide and overdoses the number went up to 200. “We were setting new records every year,” says Troy. He predicts there will be 250 to 300 burials this year. “It’s not just older people, it’s all ages. That’s what really surprised me about doing this job. You’d think it’s mostly burials of elderly people but there are so many young people.”
The Golden Cemetery is run by the City of Golden. With that, comes help from many other departments. The street department helps with the patching and paving of the roads, the Forestry Department helps with the trees, the Parks Department helps with trimming and mowing.
“I am a history lover in general so I enjoy all the history of the people buried in our cemetery,” says Troy. “I like everything about this job, working outside, helping people, being physical. I couldn’t work behind a desk all day. My favorite part is helping and working with the families.”