Halloween conjures-up imagery of ghosts, goblins and misty graveyard fog, but the Holmdel Cemetery in Monmouth County, NJ couldn’t be further removed from such a scary depiction. In fact, according to Gus DeBlasio, “Holmdel Cemetery has been here for over 200 years and encompasses 15 acres of some of the most beautiful natural terrain in the region!” DeBlasio, a Landscape Architect with Maser Consulting, has been assisting with the design, planning and maintenance of the grounds for three decades.
Located adjacent to Holmdel Park this tranquil cemetery is nestled within the gently rolling hills in an area rich with early American history. Having early associations with the Lenni Lenape Indians and Giovanni Verrazano, Holmdel’s virgin land was described in the logbook of explorer Henry Hudson (c.1605), in one of its earliest recorded encounters, as “…a very good land to fall in with and a pleasant land to see.” That statement is still true today.
“As you meander through the winding paved pathways of the cemetery grounds, the headstones and monuments read like Who’s Who of early land ownership,” explained DeBlasio. “Some of the bigger monuments reflect names of predominantly large landowners commemorated in the names of local amenities like roadways, parks and farms—including families like Schanck, Roberts, Holmes, Longstreet, Cross, McCampbell and Ackerson.”
While Holmdel Cemetery certainly doesn’t rank among Maser Consulting’s biggest projects, it is the longest ongoing one, and DeBlasio has been the “man on the job” since he graduated college. Organizing the layout, mapping plans and landscaping, not to mention maintaining pathways, lighting, retaining walls, fencing and tree management.
The Holmdel Cemetery’s refrain is “Every Life Tells a Story”. It’s true. The cemetery’s park-like setting emanates a feeling of tranquility and its soft rolling hills make a perfect milieu on which monuments sit like sentinels facing the sun, reminding people of their loved ones lost. It also provides a peaceful atmosphere perfect for long walks, observing nature, reflecting and enjoying the solitude.