Mt. Hope Cemetery: Preserving a piece of history

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”

These words from Ernest Hemingway ring true for Mt. Hope Cemetery in Dyersville, the final resting place of the author’s grandparents. In 1992, Mt. Hope was running out of money, and its landscape was littered with overgrowth and broken tombstones.

Dave Kramer, a local funeral director who grew up helping his grandfather care for the grounds, found it difficult to see Mt. Hope falling apart. “When you walk through here, there’s so much history,” he says. “It makes you think, ‘this has to be taken care of.’ We owe it to those families here.”

For several years, the Mt. Hope Board raised funds independently and managed its own investments until 2013, when it explored an endowment partnership with the Dyersville Area Community Foundation (DACF).

“Our Community Foundation advisor M.J. Smith met with our cemetery board several times to educate us about endowments and answer all of our many questions,” says Board Member Sharon Gudenkauf. “The personal caring outreach was so helpful in calming our worries about starting an endowment.”

With the help of the Foundation, the Mt. Hope Board was able to double its assets, allowing the group to repair more than 15 broken tombstones. For Sharon, that was a step in the right direction. “This was far more than we expected,” she says. “I am so grateful for the support of the community and the Foundation in making this happen.”

Mt. Hope is one of 10 local nonprofits that relies on earnings from endowment funds at the DACF. Nonprofit organizations and community members can create endowment funds at DACF to benefit charitable causes. These funds are invested and pay out 5% annually to the designated nonprofits, providing a reliable source of income to sustain organizations’ operations forever. Any earnings beyond the 5% are reinvested.

“Thank God for the Foundation because they have been so helpful,” adds Board Member Bill Rediger. “We just appreciate the dickens out of that.”



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Founded in 2002, the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque strengthens communities and inspires giving. We are dedicated to improving the quality of life throughout Northeast Iowa by serving donors, making grants to local nonprofit organizations, and providing community leadership through convening and collaboration. Guided by the values of integrity, equity and inclusion, collaboration, excellence and innovation, we seek to ensure a vibrant and inclusive Greater Dubuque region with resources and opportunity for all.