Richard H. (Dick) Shay served eight decades at Fairmount Cemetery. Dick left a legacy of trust and a cemetery filled with stories that reach far beyond the sprawling final resting place for thousands in east Denver.
Shay, who was 96, passed away in April of 2016. He was entombed in the mausoleum in the cemetery he loved.
Shay’s service to the historic cemetery south of Lowry ranged from groundskeeper to funeral counselor and president and chairman of the board of directors of the Fairmount Cemetery Association.
He made it the group’s mission to help those after the death of a loved one, which is often their most difficult time.
Some never live to see the fruition of a lifetime of labor, but Shay saw the transformation of one of Colorado’s most historic places during his 80 years of work.
His devotion to Fairmount stemmed from his father, Wilford Shay, who worked with the cemetery for 75 years starting in 1900.
Shay and his father shaped what could have been just a traditional cemetery into a place that the community is welcome to appreciate, even when they are not mourning or visiting the grave of a loved one.
After spending just a few minutes in the nearly 300-acre tree-filled landscape, one can immediately understand why the father-son duo remained so devoted to the place.
History leaps from the stones. The buildings tell stories, from the tomb of the first pioneers to the Nisei War Memorial, which was one of Shay’s proudest accomplishments.
He and his wife Virginia donated the White Gazebo that graces the Heritage Rose Garden on the grounds of the cemetery
Historical appreciation was only part of the Shays’ mission.
Education was important to Shay. He was a driving force in the development of the Fairmount Heritage Foundation. He worked to develop the first walking tours of the grounds that highlight history and call out the potential of the future.
He wanted future generations to have a place to learn about the people who shaped Denver and Colorado.