Crick Owen Elected President Of State Cemetery Association
A Newtown resident has been elected president of Connecticut Cemetery Association (CCA).
Maureen Crick Owen was elected recently by board members of the statewide association that has been serving the cemetery industry in Connecticut since 1942. She had been serving as vice president, but moved into the top spot following the recent departure of CCA President Jeff Pelletier.
The purpose of CCA is to promote the advancement of practical knowledge in the operation and maintenance of Connecticut cemeteries and to cultivate and maintain high ethical standards in the conduct of cemetery administration. This includes the observance and implementation of an established code of ethics. CCA currently has 90 cemetery members and another 35 supplier members, according to its new president.
Crick Owen has been a member of the association for about five years. She landed in the group “by pure accident,” she said this week.
“I went to a meeting, met some people, and was invited to join,” she said March 29. While most CCA members are in the industry through their employment, Crick Owen is unusual in that her association is through a volunteer role.
The Newtown native has been president of Newtown Village Cemetery Association since 1997. She has been a member of the association that oversees the historic, nonsectarian 100-acre cemetery for just shy of 25 years.
Her CCA career advanced when she was invited in 2016 to join its board. Two years later she was elected vice president.
Her predecessor resigned on good terms after taking a job outside the cemetery industry.
“You cannot be in this organization if you are not in the industry,” Crick Owen explained. “From the cemetery side, you must be on a board or an employee of a cemetery within Connecticut.
“To be a supplier member, you can be in any industry that a cemetery might need,” she added. Supply members include companies that make concrete vaults, urn vaults, landscaping, landscape design, even tree companies, she said. Supplier members do not need to be based within the state.
In nonpandemic times, members attend three meetings a year, host a suppliers expo, and usually participate in June in “a field trip of sorts,” Crick Owen said this week.
“One year we went to a company that makes urn vaults and casket vaults. We visited a funeral home one year that has a cemetery on the property, which you don’t see very often,” she said. “We also went once to a crematory in New Haven that has a cemetery on site.”
Between those events and workshops or presentations hosted by members, Crick Owen finds being a member of CCA very informative.
“There is a lot of collaborating, which I find extremely helpful,” she said. “The members are very open to sharing knowledge. The networking has really been a plus for me.”
“Even though I volunteer, I really look at this as one of the professions that I now work in.”
Her passion for Newtown Village Cemetery, and the respect that should be paid to all cemeteries, was passed to her from her father, the late James Crick.
“He was very actively involved in the cemetery association, and down there a lot,” she said. “If there was a burial, and the grass needed to be cut, he was down there. He put a lot of time and effort into it.”
Crick Owen has stepped right into those shoes. She has been known to climb onto the tractor herself to run the mower at Ram Pasture, the historic property along Elm Drive also owned by the cemetery association.
Generations of her family are buried in Newtown Village Cemetery. In addition to her father, Crick Owen’s nephew, her grandparents, and her father’s aunt are among those buried in the cemetery within walking distance of her home within the Borough.
The burial ground is a place the new CCA president and longtime Village Cemetery president can go to for a quiet moment, she said.
“I walk down there and I look at the stones, and I love the beauty of the cemetery.”
While Crick Owen loves Arlington National Cemetery in the nation’s capitol — “It’s beautiful, and there’s not a stone out of place” — she sees a different attraction in the old, sometimes very simple, and even the crooked stones in her hometown burial plot.
“Sometimes I go and I have my Cemetery Association hat on, and I see things that need to be taken care of,” she said. “But often it’s a place for me to go, and feel comfortable. It’s got the history, including my family history in there.
“I can go down there when I need ten minutes to breathe, and look over to the right, toward my dad, and my nephew, and just feel peace.”
When she is not volunteering for the two cemetery associations, Crick Owen is the office administrator for Newtown Volunteer Ambulance. She is also on the Town of Newtown Board of Selectmen.
Crick Owen’s CCA term continues to October. At that time annual elections will be held, and she anticipates she will remain in the position.
“The slate is put up, and is normally adopted,” said Crick Owen, who sees the main task as CCA’s president as keeping the organization running in a positive manner, and moving forward.
She hopes to continue plans she and her predecessor had talked about concerning increasing membership. She is also hoping to get current members more actively involved in the association, and get more things done electronically, “instead of doing everything by snail mail,” she said.
“I’m not looking to overhaul the entire organization,” she said this week. “Just improve things.”