The Buzz


Sunday, April 15, 2001

Oahu Cemetery
shares history on
the Internet

FOUNDED IN 1844, Oahu Cemetery has entered the Internet age with a new Web site at It's just two or three weeks old, according to cemetery Superintendent Harold Lewis.

"The board of trustees wanted us to look into putting up a Web site," he said, to increase public awareness of the historic cemetery. It is owned and operated by the nonprofit Oahu Cemetery Association, which is governed by a volunteer board of trustees.

The site features pictures of old, elaborate grave markers at burial sites of what it calls Hawaii's "history makers," and indicates that while burial sites are sold out, cremation sites, niches and crypts are available.

The book "Oahu Cemetery -- Burial Ground & Historic Site," by Nanette Napoleon Purnell, is offered for sale, but orders must be mailed in as the site is not geared for e-commerce.

"We have never done any advertising," Lewis said, adding their approach is different from that of The Affordable Casket Outlet. That company is a casket retailer, which has done high-profile advertising and received media attention due in part to an eye-catching, and some say disturbing, window display visible from Moanalua Freeway. It also has a sister company, Moanalua Mortuary.

Oahu Cemetery is not a full-service funeral home, but operates a crematorium and provides other services, Lewis said. He said he is working on adding a page to the Web site to answer frequently asked questions relating to cremation. He said Hawaii has the highest cremation rate in the United States, due to limited space for burials, as well as economic and religious concerns.

Oahu Cemetery has started offering cremation seminars, and has done a couple for University of Hawaii doctors and Hospice Hawaii, Lewis said. They are intended for those, such as social workers, who counsel families upon the death of a loved one.

In contrast to the Oahu Cemetery site, bills itself as an electronic catalog. Links appear as closed caskets which pop open when clicked.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin.
Call 529-4757, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached

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