Tyrone Heppard/contributing photographer
Called The Dixie Chicks, Marathon Cemetery Superintendent Kate Auchmoody, left, and Barb Eustice chat over one of the John Deere mowers they use on the grounds. Auchmoody and Eustice may have little in common with their country music namesakes, but everyone in town refers to them as the Dixie Chicks. Friends for the last 11 years, the two work at keeping the cemetery grounds looking presentable for families and visitors.
Marathon Cemetery workers big on town pride
MARATHON — Outside of the fact that they occasionally sing a country song or two when they’re mowing the Marathon Cemetery on the back of their matching John Deere tractors, Kate Auchmoody and Barb Eustice have little in common with their namesakes.
Everyone in town refers to them as the Dixie Chicks.
“All of a sudden, we came up as the Dixie Chicks,” Auchmoody said, “And we’re like, how the heck did that happen?”
It’s strange — especially since there’s only two of them and there are three members of the famous country music group. But during a lunch break Friday morning, they said their boss, Milton Parker, started calling them that out of the blue one day and, for one reason or another, it stuck.
“That’s what everyone in Marathon calls us,” Eustice said.
Auchmoody and Eustice have been friends for the last 11 years. They have spent the last year of that friendship maintaining the cemetery grounds and keeping it looking presentable for families and visitors.
Eustice said Auchmoody, the cemetery supervisor who cut her teeth doing work at the Cortland Rural Cemetery years ago, had been trying to get her to come up and lend a hand as an assistant for years. She finally took her up on her offer around this time last year.
“I loved it,” Eustice said. “Honestly, I didn’t know how much work it involved. It is not an easy task.”
So now, five days a week, in their fluorescent-colored tank tops, the women are in the cemetery doing everything from lawn care and maintenance to directing people to the many plots on the property, installing gravestones, preparing graves and digging holes for cremation interments.