Official says Cook County should operate cemetery

May 11, 2012

Associated Press

A commissioner is proposing that Cook County should get back into the cemetery business by setting aside five acres on the grounds of a closed hospital to bury the indigent.

John Fritchey says by resuming cemetery operations on the grounds of the former Oak Forest Hospital, the county could save millions of dollars and meet its needs for 100 years.

The county currently pays Homewood Memorial Gardens $150,000 yearly to handle burials for the county. Fritchey spokeswoman Bridget Luehrsen says new burial standards are expected to increase those costs.

Fritchey says his plan would allow the county to bury its indigent, unclaimed and unknown bodies with "greater oversight, reverence and respect." The plan will be presented Monday to the county board.

The county operated cemeteries from 1854 to 1971.