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A Grave Undertaking

For some, retirement means leaving the working world and picking up a general hobby. But for Marcia Van Bibber and her husband, Eddie, it means taking that hobby and transforming it into a small business.

During the last two years, the Nelsonville couple has explored a variety of endeavors, including Heavenly Names, which made plaques and pictures displaying name meanings or meaningful quotes.

Eddie also tried his hand in the floral world under the name Heavenly Bloomers and set up a greenhouse on the side of the couple’s 772 Walnut St. residence.

“I planted about 10,000 seeds and harvested anywhere from six to seven thousand flowers, which I then sold to local businesses,” he said.

Their current undertaking, Heavenly Monument Services, cleans and maintains headstones and markers of deceased loved ones.

After caring for their parents’ headstones for a period of time, the couple started to clean neighboring stones that looked unkempt and began to place flowers on untended graves, Marcia said.  Because it was an expensive hobby, they decided to start charging.

“What we do is not just a business, it is something we enjoy doing,” Marcia said. “I look at it as a service. When we get an order, we will do the stone being paid for, but also do a stone that looks dirty.”

Though the business is in its infancy, the couple plans on serving Southeast Ohio and the surrounding area. The Van Bibbers plan to advertise their business at local funeral homes and cemeteries, relying on word of mouth to help expand their clientele.

“As far as I know, they are the only people who do this sort of thing,” said David Brown, owner of Warren-Brown Funeral Home in Nelsonville.

“They work hard,” Brown added. “I hope to see them succeed.”

In terms of logistics, Eddie handles sales and Marcia takes care of the creative side of grave adorning. However, Marcia joked, her husband has a talent for crafting wreaths.

Prices for grave services depend on a number of factors, but the final price essentially depends upon the customer and how much they want done, Marcia said.

“The services we offer include basic cleaning and polishing, weed removal, floral arrangements, solar lamps and wind chimes,” Marcia said. “The distance to a gravesite also affects cost, but curious customers can request an estimate that is free of charge.”

The first week Heavenly Monuments opened for business, it received four phone calls expressing interest and currently has one client. That does not mean, however, that the couple has limited itself to cleaning five stones.

“We’ve enjoyed learning as we go and doing something new,” Marcia said.

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