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Jim Bishop worked nearly four decades in jobs that ended when his employer shut down before he found job security at Mount Hope Cemetery.
That was in 1991.
Bishop, now 87, has been working on the grounds crew of the country’s second oldest garden cemetery ever since. He has no plans to stop anytime soon.
“I was beginning to feel like a jinx,” Bishop said with a laugh of the jobs he worked before he joined the cemetery.
On any given day, you’ll find Bishop, a Brewer native, raking, trimming bushes or weeding flower beds, an ever-present smile pasted to his face. Bishop, the oldest employee who has ever worked at the cemetery, does whatever job needs to be done around the grounds.
“I like my job here,” Bishop said. “I like the boss. I like the people I work with. I’m a little tired at night, but otherwise, I get up the next morning and do it again.”
Bishop said that being outdoors keeps him going. He loves the fresh air and seeing familiar people. Many who take walks through the cemetery know Bishop’s smiling face and chipper personality.
“Everybody loves him. He’s nice to the people, and he’s always in good spirits when he comes to work,” Mount Hope Superintendent Stephen Burrill said. “He speaks to everyone that walks around here. They even bring him stuff — really, they’ll bring him tools, they’ll bring him food. They’ll bring him a little bit of everything. He’s just a nice man.”
Bishop has a strong work ethic, Burrill said.
“You never have to worry about Jim, and he takes pride in what he does,” he said. “I let him go. I don’t pressure him. I just let him do his thing.”
Bishop shares a story about when he came to Mount Hope Cemetery in search of a job. He said he asked if there was any chance the cemetery would go out of business, and the staff member replied that he didn’t think so.
“So here I am 28 years later,” Bishop said with a smile. “I’m still here.”
Bishop plans to work at Mount Hope Cemetery as long as he can.
“It beats staying home, by golly,” he said.