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Sherry L. Smith, President and CEO
Sherry Smith was appointed President and CEO of Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum in March 2017. Sherry has over 14 years’ experience as an advancement professional in higher education and pediatric healthcare in addition to community and volunteer leadership experience. She has managed 300-member volunteer programs and executed more than 500 events locally and nationally. Her early experiences as a small business owner, substitute teacher, and career advisor helped form her business and management skills.
“Becoming the President and CEO of a cemetery is not something that crosses one’s mind every day, but when I learned all the ways Bellefontaine serves our community, it truly spoke to my heart. I love the rich history, the beautiful gardens, the commitment to native plantings and green practices, but above all, it’s Bellefontaine’s profound care for our families, past, present, and future, that I was most excited to be a part of.”
Smith came to Bellefontaine from Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital where she was the Chief Development Office since 2014. At Ranken Jordan she worked to secure the Hospital’s Beyond Campaign for their building expansion. She also held fundraising positions at Washington University, The YMCA of Greater St. Louis, and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. While at Washington University, she co-developed, executed and completed the Campaign for the Danforth University Center. At St. Louis Children’s Hospital, she co-developed and coordinated the Care and Cures Campaign, Time to Play Campaign, and worked with key leaders in St. Louis to carry out the Development Board Campaign.
Sherry holds a Bachelor of Science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in Workforce Education and Development.
Richard Lay, Vice President of Customer Relations
Rick has been the Vice-President of Customer Relations since February of 2008. He is a licensed funeral director and an ordained minister. He is passionate about Bellefontaine Cemetery’s history and the stories of its families. He continues to help people plan for their final resting place and memorial.
He is an active member and Past-President of the Cemetery Management Association (CMA) and currently the Vice-President of the Associated Cemeteries of Missouri (ACM).
In his leisure, he enjoys going out for dinner and music with his wife, Tracy.
Gracie Griffin, Vice President Customer Relations
Mrs. Griffin began in Customer Relations with Bellefontaine Cemetery in September 2012. Previously, Gracie taught social studies in the Parkway School District and later became a yearbook representative for Walsworth Publishing.
As a former educator, Mrs. Griffin’s passion lies in helping people. Through educating on important topics like pre-planning and green burial, providing guidance through genealogy research, and serving families in their time of need, Gracie fulfills this passion at Bellefontaine.
Gracie earned her BA in Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
In her spare time, she enjoys relaxing with her family, trivia events, and disc golf.
Michael Garrett, Director of Horticulture, Curator of Living Collections
Michael joined Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum in January 2020 and brings with him a diverse horticultural background. He has experience in horticulture operations and contracting, ecological restoration and landscape design, but above all has centered his career around arboriculture (the cultivation of trees and shrubs).
Michael holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Forestry from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.
Nathaniel T. Evans, Horticulture Supervisor, ISA Certified Arborist
Nathaniel Evans is the Horticulture Supervisor and has been with the cemetery since 2016. He was born and raised in the St. Louis area. His interest in horticulture began at an early age as he spent time with his father who was the superintendent of several local golf courses and works in the green industry. He graduated from Washington High school in 2008 and continued his education at St. Louis Community College–Meramec. In 2011, he earned an Associate in Applied Science degree specializing in horticulture.
While attending college, he began his first job in the horticulture industry at The Brickman Group. He spent 2 years working for Brickman and earned a position as a crew leader. Following Brickman, he worked for Omni Land Care which specializes in premium residential and commercial landscaping such as the Monsanto Headquarters. Omni allowed him to apply his education in ornamental plants in a practical environment. After three years with Omni, he returned to Brickman in the role of a supervisor. His responsibilities included projects such as the installation of new plant designs, retaining walls, and tree removal. In his third year, he was assigned to Bellefontaine and his work focused on Wildwood Valley.
In the first three years of service with the cemetery, he has assisted with designing, installating, and maintaining gardens throughout the grounds. The horticulture team has planted more than 2,500 new trees and shrubs since 2016. His passion is planting native trees and shrubs to help improve the ecology at the cemetery.
Cara Crocker, Director of Development
Cara has over 20 years of nonprofit experience in accounting, customer service, and fundraising. She received a BA in Visual Art from Webster University and is a Master’s Candidate in the Arts Management and Leadership program at Webster University.
Cara joined Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum’s staff in August 2014 as the Operations Manager for Development and Customer Relations. While in that role, Ms. Crocker designed and managed data collection processes to help the cemetery analyze its fundraising and customer service impact. In 2016 she became the cemetery’s Director of Annual Giving. “Helping the community discover this incredible historic sanctuary and connecting them to the resources it has to offer is the most rewarding work I’ve ever experienced.”
Tom Wilson, Interim Superintendent
Tom began working at Bellefontaine as a Groundsman in 1985. Over his 33 years at Bellefontaine, Tom has witnessed a seldom-used cemetery grow into a thriving community resource. He is known among our staff for his attention to detail and commitment to doing things right the first time.