JULY 1, 2010

Jim Routh, sitting atop his John Deere, is the man responsible for keeping the grounds a place of beauty at the Orofino Cemetery.

The Orofino Cemetery, which opened in 1909, is remarkably beautiful sitting along the Clearwater River not far from downtown Orofino.

His mailbox says, “Have a blessed day”

By Alannah Allbrett

   As you can see by the mailbox, his address (daytime one, at least) is Orofino Cemetery 10100 Hwy. 12. That would be Jim Routh sitting atop his John Deere. He is the man responsible for keeping the grounds a place of beauty at the Orofino Cemetery (as well as Hill Cemetery on Upper Ford’s Creek Road, and Weseman Cemetery about four miles east of  Konkolville).

   Jim had already built a wall and rerouted sprinklers by the time I arrived to interview him. Except for the help of his dog Cookie, it’s pretty much a one man show as groundskeeper and maintenance man at the Orofino Cemetery. He is glad to receive much needed help from inmates on a pretty regular basis, however.

   Jim said Hill Cemetery used to be “the cemetery” when Orofino was young. It has burials from the late 1800’s. One of the earliest graves there, would probably be that of Mr. Glenn Larkin in 1895. The Orofino Cemetery was opened in 1909.

   All three of these cemeteries are maintained by an annual budget from Clearwater County. “The average cost to a tax payer is approximately $15 per family, per year,” said Jim. Also, families are able to purchase a full sized plot for $500. The larger headstones are usually set in place by a monument company, and Jim places some of the smaller ones himself.

   Veterans, and volunteers, from the VFW, Harold Kinne Post 3296, regularly decorate the cemetery with beautiful displays of the American Flag. Jim said the flags are put up and taken down on the same day of a designated holiday. Jim goes through the entire cemetery four or five times a year to remove any dead plants and debris. He is also the record keeper and has made wall maps numbering and designating the location of plots.

   As his fellow classmates were still filing out of the building after their graduation from Twin Falls High in 1961, Jim said he was “already in the car and heading out of town.” He had a job waiting for him that summer up north in Orofino. Jim later went to school in Moscow at the University of Idaho from 1961 to 1962.

   Over the years, Jim worked for Bill Cummings, maintaining six to eight trucks, and building logging roads for Potlatch.

   Jim had met his future wife, Darlene, back in Twin Falls. The couple was married in the fall of 1963. They have called Orofino home ever since. Jim and Darlene have three children: a son, Ed who lives in Orofino, a daughter Traci, who lives in Coeur d’Alene, and a son Dale from Rathdrum. They have six grandchildren and one great grandchild who just arrived in April of this year.

   Jim really enjoys working with kids and was a Royal Ranger leader for the youth of his church. Jim helped out a church sponsored summer camp last summer, and he will be cooking for the three day Synergy campout in mid July.

   When he does get some time off, Jim likes to spend it backpacking with his grandkids. When asked what his plans for retirement are, Jim just shook his head from side to side. He just plans to keep on working and said, “All the glory goes to God for showing me how.” Besides the address, Jim’s mailbox also says, “Have a blessed day.”