For Whom the Bell Tolls

 by Al Anderson

There is no longer a bell housed at the Cobden Cemetery, but the title of village sexton — keeper of the bell — remains, and Joe Girtman now holds that title. His duties include maintaining the grounds, assisting families in finding graves, organizing events at the cemetery and all other cemetery business.

Girtman was born and raised in Cobden and has held many job positions with the village, including chief of police for about five years in the 1970s. He seems to be fondest of his years as the cemetery keeper.

Girtman says a lot of people leave Cobden, but many “spend their last dollar to be back here with their family. Eventually, they all come back to the cemetery to stay.”

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