Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Classic Memorials and Symbolism

Every time I stand in a cemetery I can't help but think about the history and stories that surround me. Histories of how our community was built and how our country was protected, lessons learned, good times, bad times and sad times. Many have untold stories that will never be known, while others have stories that have been told time and time again; and to stand amongst them is always amazing.

Perhaps it doesn't come as a surprise when I tell you that I enjoy genealogy. The key word is *enjoy*, because I am certainly not good at it, nor do I have much time for it! However, I do enjoy tracing my relatives and subsequently visiting their graves. 

Visiting the graves of relatives is like a treasure hunt for me. I track down where the person is located, use a map to find their place and then never know what I will find when I get there! Sure, you can see photos of the monuments on websites such as, but there is something so exciting about finding it in person. 

I recently planned a trip to check out the cemetery where some of my relatives are buried and was so excited to discover this beautiful memorial!

It is a marble memorial that stands approximately 7' tall- all hand carved. Marble was a popular material that was commonly used for monument-making during this time period because it was a softer stone that could be easily carved by the memorialist. It is not used as commonly today, as granite is a more durable and preferred material. 

Upon first glance in the cemetery, all you see is this tall monument. However, once you get closer and really examine it, you discover a history just waiting to be told!

This memorial is for M.L. Hall, born July 12, 1867 and died Jan. 9, 1915. Notice how the letters in his name are raised? We call this "raised letters". Raised letters were especially popular during this time period and may also be seen on his base. They lend boldness to one's name and really look nice. 

< < See the raised lettering in his name?

You can see the raised lettering on his last name as well. So classic and pretty!                           >>

You can learn a lot about a person by simply reading his or her epitaph. Now, the thing is, if you don't pre-plan your own memorial, then chances are that you will not have any control over what your survivors choose to write. So, epitaphs may or may not be an accurate reflection of the person and his or her values. 

In this case, the epitaph serves as a message of faith and hope. It reads, "Another link is broken in our family band. But a chain is forming in a better land". 

It is difficult to tell one's entire life story on a material so limited in size. So, throughout history we have utilized symbols to help tell the story. There is significant symbolism on this memorial that I want to point out. 

The first symbol is that of the Woodmen of the World. For more on the Woodmen of the World, please refer to my blog post from October 2012 and also check out this blog post. The Woodmen of the World had a memorial template that they would send to a local stone carver, thus why many Woodmen of the Wold monuments have unique elements about them. However, this is not believed to be one of the Woodmen of the World patterns. 

Down below the Woodmen of the World emblem you will notice another emblem- the Masonic square and compass.  The interesting thing about this Masonic square and compass is that it appears to be sitting upon a mantel with a sunlight carved into the keystone area. This immediately caught my eye, as I had not seen it before. 

I had to do a lot of research on this, as I knew that the sun was a Masonic symbol, but I had typically seen a face carved into the suns I had seen in the past. You will notice this sun is a simple sun and does not have a face carved into it. 

From the best I can tell, the sun is representing fire (the sun is a ball of fire), which is a symbol that represents the importance of God and his judgement. The keystone can be a Masonic symbol for the York Rite of Order. 

The next symbol I noticed is the cloak that is draped over the top of the monument. See how it is draped over the top and sides and has tassels on the ends? It reminds me of curtains!
Curtains are a symbol often seen in the cemetery and are made "fancy" by adding fringe at the bottom and tassels. The curtains symbolize that the impact of this individuals death will continue to linger. 

The interesting thing about these curtains is that there is also an urn on the very top of the monument that has a cloak coming out of it. That is a very significant symbol. It's tough to see in this picture, but do you see the top piece? >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
If you walk around to the back, you will see the obvious shape of an urn with the cloak coming out of it. 

So, when you hear the word "urn", you most likely think of ashes. Throughout time individuals have stored the ashes of a loved one in an urn. So the symbol of the urn has been associated with death for thousands of years because of it's history of storing ashes. As such, the urn is a symbol of the ashes to which our bodies will turn. The cloak coming out of the urn represents the soul departing the body for eternity. 

By analyzing the epitaph (message of faith and hope), along with the draped urn, we understand that he had a deep faith in God. We also understand, based on the epitaph and the curtain, that he was greatly missed. We also gain an understanding that he was social (having belonged to two fraternal organizations) and placed importance upon the activities associated with them. 

I hope you have found this journey through symbolism to be interesting and helpful! If you would like information on how to tell your loved one's story, please check out our website at 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mixing Granite Colors

Go out to any cemetery and you will typically see a pattern with memorial colors: You'll see a the same colored tablet with the same colored base with the same colored flower pots. It's a tradition that has been carried down through the decades and really looks great! The Evans monument in this photo is made from Impala Black Granite and features a custom shape-carved border around the bottom. It also features Impala Black Granite vases to compliment it.                                                                                
One way you can add interest to your loved one's memorial without breaking the bank is by mixing granite colors. Granite, as  you know from our previous post, comes in countless colors. While not all granite colors are suitable for memorial use due to their grain patterns and density, it is fun to play with the colors and create a unique memorial that stands out for all the right reasons!                                                                           The McCollough monument in this photograph is one of our favorite memorials because it is done tastefully and in a manner that really highlights the beauty of the stone. Here we have used a Georgia Gray granite that has a sawn finish. That basically means that the granite is not polished and shiny. You can think of it as a matte finish if you like. We paired the stone with all polished black vases that help bring out the black paint in the lettering on the stone. 

If you would like to create a beautiful and unique memorial for yourself or a loved one, please feel free to call or come by one of our two locations:

806-B S. Thompson

907 N. Walton

We also work with several funeral homes, cemeteries and retailers in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas. Ask for us by name to ensure you are receiving one of our high-quality monuments.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What The Color Says

Recently I had a sweet family in that was interested in purchasing a memorial for their mother. They wandered around the showroom, checking out our different styles and designs, when they asked an interesting question.

"We want a color that shows she was bold. Do you have anything bold?"
I sat and thought for a moment and in donned on me that I had spent a considerable amount of time studying the symbolism on monuments, but I had not necessarily studied how a combination of both color and symbolism can offer a very powerful depiction of one's life and life story.

So I set out to learn about colors and what their selection may say about a person, and I wanted to share my findings with you.

Blue. The two most popular blue granites that we deal with are Blue Pearl and Bahama Blue.

Blue Pearl Granite
Blue pearl gets it's name from the it's pearly specks of blue. It really sparkles in the sunlight and looks so much prettier in person than it does in this sample photo on the blog!

Bahama Blue
The second blue that we carry is called Bahama Blue. Contrary to it's name, Bahama Blue does not come from the Bahamas. (That is disappointing, I know!) This blue really varies in appearance and can look rather gray in the sunlight depending upon the stock that is selected. It also has streaks and/or dots of purple throughout.

Based on the information I have found online, blue can indicate a personality that includes the following character traits:
Peaceful - Stable - Calm - Confident - Tranquil - Sincere - Affectionate - Having Integrity
Ebony Mist Granite
Black. Believe it or not, there are countless variations of black granite! The difference in the black colors lies in the grain and also in the color combinations. So you may see black with a misty gray throughout such as Ebony Mist.

Or, you may see a black granite with "gold" specs throughout called Gold Star Black.

Gold Star Black Granite

Of course there are many, many options when it comes to black granite (too many to list on the blog!), but black can indicate the following character traits:
Sophisticated - Powerful - Mysterious - Formal - Saavy


Gray. There are several gray granites to choose from, with our most popular being the classic Georgia Gray. Our Georgia Gray granite comes from Elberton, GA. You will notice it is primarily gray with a smattering of black and white fine grain dots throughout the stone.   This color can change in appearance depending upon if the stone is polished, sawn, dusted, frosted, or honed. It is a classic color and frequently found in cemeteries, especially in the south. Gray can indicate the following character traits:
Stable - Secure - Strength of Character - Authoritative - Mature
Pink. There are several rose or pink colored granites to choose from, with each color looking very different from the others.

Chapel Rose Granite

 When a family comes in requesting pink granite, the granites available versus their expectations may vary wildly. Because granite is a natural stone, there is no "hot pink" or "pastel pink" to choose from.
Two of our most popular pinks are Morning Rose and Chapel Rose.

Morning Rose Granite

Pink can indicate the following Character Traits
Beautiful - Sensitive - Compassionate - Faithful - Friendly - Romantic - Loving & Kind

India Red Granite
Of course you are probably wondering what color the family I referenced at the beginning of this blog post chose. You'll recall they wanted something BOLD.
And, after learning more about their mother, we decided that an India Red Granite would be most appropriate.
Character traits most commonly indicated by Red are:
Loves Danger - Passionate - Daring - Romantic - Stylish - Excited - Energetic
There are so many granite colors to choose from, that I couldn't possibly include them all in this blog post. However, if you are interested in creating a memorial that tells your loved one's unique story, give one of our professional memorial counselors a call and we will be glad to help!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

There is Empowerment in Remembering.

Have you ever seen Dr. Suess' hit movie, The Lorax? It's a fun yet cautionary tale that promotes environmental awareness, self motivation and sustainability- all very important things for our society to remember.

As I was watching the movie with my own children, I couldn't help but become excited about a small prop that is used. It is a simple stone with the simple word "UNLESS" engraved on it. As the movie went on the Onceler proclaimed,

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing will get better. It's not."

What a powerful statement! Even more importantly, what a wonderful message to empower our children to realize that, if used appropriately, their voices can be heard to make important changes- changes for the better.

I became inspired by the meaning of the little rock, as did the staff here at Emerson Monument Company, and decided to help the Lorax communicate his message by taking it to the local schools. And I am SO glad that we did because it has been a really fun and enjoyable project for us all to work on!

Presenting Our Stone to a Local Elementary School 

When we presented our stones to the local schools we incorporated it into their curriculum in several fun and meaningful ways.

At one school we incorporated the presentation into their Kindergarten Career Day. I began my career day presentation by telling the kids that I am a Memorialist. (a big word for 5 and 6 year olds!) I told them that in my career I help people remember important people and important events. They seemed to understand that and even had some suggestions about the people and events they think are important. 
I then read the portion of , The Lorax, to them that illustrates the UNLESS rock.

"What do you think The Lorax's important message means? And why is it important?" They had some wonderful (and, I will admit, some very funny) answers! "But why is it important that this message be remembered by future generations?" I challenged.

And, most importantly of all, "Why do you think the Lorax chose to engrave his message on a stone rather than simply write it on paper or post it on Facebook?"

All around us, in our community centers and public places, in our cemeteries, in our gardens, and even in our businesses, there are dedications to those people and events that we regard as important and special. They are individuals, groups and historical events that have defined who we are, where we come from and why we think and act the way we do.

We honor them by keeping their memories alive- forever. But in a world of dwindling permanence, the only way to truly keep those memories alive- even decades after we, ourselves, are gone- is to etch those memories in stone to ensure they remain memorable for generations yet to come.

That is my objective as a memorialist- to tell stories in stone that will be cherished and remembered for generations; To honor the lives and events that have defined us, and to do so in a beautifully permanent way.

My name is Alison Raymer and I am proud to be a memorialist at Emerson Monument Company and to work with the families and communities which I serve.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Emerson's Staff Leading the Industry

Springdale, AR - Alison Raymer, CEO and co-owner of Emerson Monument Company, was nominated by fellow memorialists and elected as the 2013-2015 vice president of the Monument Builders of North America. She was installed into the position at the annual convention and banquet held in Cincinnati, OH, on February 7-10, 2012.

Founded in 1906, the Monument Builders of North America is the largest association of professional memorialists in the nation with a membership of 733 that spans internationally.

When you purchase a monument or headstone from an MBNA member, you are assured of ethical, honest business practices from someone who is committed to his or her industry and art. They are dedicated to providing you with a grave marker or tombstone that will embody the story you want told.

As part of their membership, MBNA member companies sign a statement of policy, The Code of Good Practice. This code promotes fair and honest business practices that, in turn, serve and protect the consumer.

“In this position I will represent memorialists not only from North America, but also from across the world. I will help develop and implement strategic advancement for our industry, continuing professional education and the international exchange of ideas for our members,” said Ms. Raymer.

Emerson Monument Company has been an active part of the Northwest Arkansas business community since 1914 as a leading provider in quality cemetery and civic memorials. The company has also been involved in countless volunteer cemetery repair projects including a large-scale project at the historic Evergreen Cemetery in Fayetteville.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Need Funds? Buy Bricks!

Let's face it, everyone could use a little extra cash every now and then. And in today's economy it can be tough for non-profits, schools and other facilities to raise the funds they need to continue offering the products or services they provide. But, with just a simple phone call to Emerson Monument Co and a little sales effort, your organization can start a sustainable fundraiser that gives donors even more of a reason to pull out their check books.

Engraved brick fundraisers have been around for decades and have been used by both non-profit and for-profit organizations alike. The reason it works is because donors are recognized in a manner that is both fairly permanent and public. Because the public can see who donated, it is not uncommon for organizations to recognize various donor levels by including level icons on the pavers along with donor information.

While planning to do a brick fundraiser there are several questions important questions to ask and address.

Where will your bricks be placed?
    • I have seen facilities incorporate bricks into sidewalks and walkways, place them around planters and garden areas and lay them into walls.
  • Who will manage the brick campaign?
    • The most successful campaigns are those that have a dedicated campaign manager who works closely with the donor and with Emerson Monument Company to ensure all provided information will fit on the brick and all engraved information is accurate. A great campaign manager will also keep track of where on the premises the brick is located so donors may find it with ease.
  • When will the bricks be placed?
    • From our experience we have found that it is typically less expensive to place several bricks at one time as opposed to placing one here and one there.
    • If you envision your fundraising effort to last for several years, we recommend visiting with us about how to appropriately plan and how our on-site engraving services work.
Think your organization can't do bricks? Think again! We have done bricks for the following types of organizations:
  • public schools
  • private schools
  • pre-schools and day cares
  • athletic leagues
  • civic memorials
  • therapeutic treatment facilities
  • arts centers
  • gardens
  • churches
  • animal shelters
  • non-profit foundations
  • cities/downtowns
  • amusement parks
If you would like to explore the possibility of an engraved brick or paver fundraising campaign for your organization, contact Emerson Monument Company and learn how your group can grow!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Murder, Faith and Dreams.

Ask anyone who knew Dustin Chamberlain and they will tell you he was a shining star. Bright, polite, caring and kind, athletic, charismatic, goal oriented and a follower of Christ. Dustin was grounded in his faith and knew that he was being called to serve others through medical missions. But no one could have ever imagined the manner in which he would truly be called- not even Dustin.
In December of 2011 Dustin completed the first semester of his Sophomore year at Baylor University. Attending Baylor was a dream come true for Dustin and he savored most every moment of it. He was thrilled to have the opportunity to work toward his life-long dream of becoming a doctor and jumped into the Pre-Med/Biology program feet first! As a Pre-Med student he was active in several medical service organizations and The Bear Pit, a crazy-fun Baylor Bears Basketball spirit organization and tradition. He loved being involved, loved the group of friends that he had made and loved being a student at Baylor.

When Dustin came home to Arkansas for a much-anticipated Christmas break, he was excited about spending time with his family, visiting with his parents about a medical mission trip, looking at potential medical school programs and taking a short break from hitting the books. But before he could do any of that he had to have a minor outpatient procedure performed- after that, he could relax and enjoy.

On the morning of December 15, 2011, Dustin was recovering from his outpatient procedure at home in Northwest Arkansas. Although his parents offered to stay home from work and nurse him back to health, he insisted that he was fine and didn't feel as though he needed assistance. His parents agreed that he would be okay without them and his father made plans to come have lunch with him later in the day. 

But after his parents backed out of the driveway, watched the garage door shut and drove off to work, their worst nightmare began to unfold.

Lurking in the shadows behind the garage was a stranger, a local man, who had been reported as depressed, suicidal and missing. He stood out there for about two hours, waiting for the family to leave for the day- waiting for the opportunity to enter their home. 
But the stranger wasn't quiet about making an entrance, in fact, he is believed to have caused quiet a commotion, which Dustin heard from inside the home.

Home invasions aren't common in the small town of Siloam Springs. In fact, the possibility of a home invasion was probably the last scenario on Dustin's mind. The family dog often got into the garage and made noise, and is, more than likely, what Dustin thought was going on.

But when Dustin made it to the door, he came face to face with an intruder. Neither man expected to run into one another in that doorway that morning. The surprised intruder was armed and fatally shot Dustin 4 times. He then proceeded to pilfer through the house until he finally sat down in a chair in the family room and shot himself.

Dustin's parents loved having him home for Christmas and his mother called him throughout the morning to check on him- but received no answer. Her initial thought was that he was sleeping and recovering from his procedure, but became concerned and asked his father to run to the house and check him. Little did he know at that time, that Dustin had truly gone Home for Christmas.

When I first met the Chamberlains they knew one thing about how they wanted Dustin to be remembered. They wanted their son, the sweet auburn-haired boy who had a tender heart and genuine spirit, to be remembered as a man of God, who sought to live his life for Him. They referenced a statement Dustin often made when asked why he pushed himself so hard or worried about making the right decisions and that was, "Because I love God and don't want to give him less than my best." He also had a verse he loved- Hebrews 12:1-2, that the family wanted to incorporate along with his photo, a vase and the Baylor University Logo.

Dustin never could have imagined the manner in which he was called to serve, but his parents, family and friends now know that Dustin was called in a unique and special way. He was called to serve with his memory in a way that will continue to touch countless people around the world through The Dustin Chamberlain Memorial Foundation, also known as Dustin's Dream.

Dustin's Dream is very much alive today and has recently partnered with the John Brown University Mission Team to construct a medical clinic in Guatemala City. In 2013 the two organizations will host events and fundraisers to help raise the $50,000 that is needed to erect the medical clinic that will serve those in need of treatment.

The first fundraising event they are hosting is Dustin's Heavenly Birthday party, to celebrate Dustin's life and dreams. It will be held on Saturday, December 15, 2012 from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm in the Lowe's parking lot in Siloam Springs. Doorprizes will be given away every 30 minutes and balloons will be released at 1:00.  Lunch and birthday cupcakes will be served, with all proceeds going to support Dustin's Dream.

For those wishing to donate to Dustin's Dream but unable to attend, you may click here to email the Foundation.