Shiring retires after 44 years at Washington Cemetery Business

Paul Shiring learned early in his career that an inappropriate greeting could kill business.

“Working in a cemetery is awkward,” he said Wednesday morning. “When someone comes through the door, don’t say‘ good morning ’because it may not be a good morning for them. They may have lost someone. Some people may come in laughing, some may be crying, and some may be angry. ”

Shiring apparently comported himself appropriately on the job. He recently retired after 54 years of graveyard shifts at Southwestern Pennsylvania cemeteries, including the past 44 as superintendent of Washington Cemetery.

A modest sort, Shiring, 75, officially retired on Jan. 31. He relinquished the superintendent’s reins he had held since 1978 to Kevin Scotta longtime employee at the cemetery in North Franklin Township.

Shiring is taking it easy at his South Strabane Township home – but not too easy. He remains secretary-treasurer of the Western Pennsylvania Cemetery Association, of which he is a past president, and is still the editor and publisher of the association’s ECHO quarterly newsletter.

Scott, also of South Strabane, has a keen appreciation for a man who has been a mentor. “Paul has been good to me, good at letting me grow and expand in the business,” said Scott, a 12-year-old employee at Washington Cemetery who previously had been an assistant superintendent, then an interim superintendent.

Shiring, literally, learned the cemetery business from the ground up. After graduating from Baldwin High School, he began working in grounds maintenance at Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh’s East End. Shiring toiled there from 1964 to 1966, then served with the Air Force for three years before returning to his old job.

“When I got out of the military, I was going to night school and the job was steady daylight,” he said. His future father-in-law, George E. Campbellwas the superintendent at Allegheny Cemetery, which was established in 1844.

“It was such a tremendous experience and there was so much history there,” Shiring said.

He left after two years for a position at a cemetery in Vandergrift, before moving up to the superintendent’s job at an East Liberty cemetery. Shiring worked there until 1978, when he came to Washington County.

He succeeded the Crosby family as head of Washington Cemetery. “They managed it for 110 years,” Shiring said. “Townspeople in Washington referred to it as ‘Crosby Park.'”

Washington Cemetery seemswise has a rich history, dating to 1853 – eight years before the beginning of the Civil War. Scott readily discussed a large measure of that history during a telephone conversation on Tuesday. Among the factoids:

There have been more than 50,000 interments there, including Revolutionary War soldiers and a Medal of Honor recipient, Hugh P. Boon

  • a Civil War captain from Company B West Virginia Cavalry;
  • Washington Cemetery has three different veterans sections;
  • The first person interred there was a baby,
  • , on Nov. 1, 1853;
  • The cemetery founder was
  • president of Washington Female Seminary.

W&J webinars

Natural gas and the geopolitical and environmental roles it will play will be the focuses of two upcoming webinars coordinated by the Center for Energy Policy and Management at Washington & Jefferson College.

The virtual events are scheduled for the next two Wednesdays – March 23 and 30 – as part of CEPM’s Energy Lecture Series. They are free and open to the public.

Daniel J. Weaverpresident and executive director of the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association, will speak at 11 am March 23. He will discuss how the invasion of Ukraine affects global energy supply and the role the Appalachian natural gas industry can play in that.

Topics will include Europe’s energy needs, current production levels, imports, exports, liquified natural gas, commodity prices and what the region’s energy future could hold.

The March 30 webinar, also at 11 am, is titled, “Two Approaches to Reducing Natural Gas Methane Emissions.” It will feature two speakers: Karen Marshof the US Environmental Protection Agency, and Max Goffcertification manager for Project Canary.

Methane emissions are the second-greatest cause of global warming, and the production of oil and natural gas is a large contributor. The EPA is proposing a new Clean Air Act rule that would slash emissions from that industry – including, for the first time, reductions from existing sources nationwide. Marsh, a technical lead for developing the regulations, will discuss those efforts.

Gas producers are striving to cut emissions, and several from the region have joined with Project Canary, which has been at the forefront of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) certification of responsible operations. Those operations include measurement-based emission profiles through continuous monitoring technology at gas wells and midstream sites.

Goff will explain how the monitoring and certification process works.

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