Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends of Mount Auburn President Bill Clendaniel Retires | Page 15

(continued from page 5) Bill entered the non-profit world of land conservation and historic preservation when he became the Deputy Di- rector of The Trustees of Reservations in 1979. “That job was both great fun and a valuable experience, learning how non-profits work, how you manage wild lands and historic gardens, how you interpret natural and historic sites, and how you deal with issues of public use of privately owned land.” His boss was Gordon Abbott, a long-time Mount Auburn Trustee, who eventually nudged Bill to apply for the Mount Auburn job. “Gordon was a wonderful mentor, both at The Trustees and for many years at Mount Auburn,” Bill recalls. The Future: For Mount Auburn and for Bill “Bill is the perfect client, he really is. We had many very thoughtful meetings about how to treat every square inch of Cemetery land that I’ve been involved with—and I loved that. At Spruce Knoll this allowed everyone to tromp around and think the project through. I could take my time and know what was the right way to go. And that is unusual. “Bill is certainly one of the most courtly people in the world. He’s always beautifully dressed and elegant in his bearing and yet direct and down-to-earth. When you work with Bill, there is never any confusion about how things will go. He lays them out clearly and follows through on everything he says. He’s the best of the best, not only in terms of business relationships but also in terms of his collegial relationships.” A Conversation with Bill Clendaniel What challenges remain for Mount Auburn after Bill leaves? “One of the biggest and most exciting challenges, — Julie Moir Messervy which I regret I won’t play a role in, is how to develop the of Saxtons River, VT; Landscape Designer Southwest Corner. That site will allow Mount Auburn to design a cemetery for the 21st century,” Bill says. “There’s feature as well as many new trees and shrubs, planted both enough space to really make a statement and it’s not next inside and outside the Cemetery’s boundary. It is innova- to any historic areas, which gives the Cemetery a lot of tive yet traditional and will be the key to Mount Auburn’s freedom in the design. It could be a stunning new landscape.” future as an active Bill’s last major project, debuting this year, is Birch Gar- cemetery. “Our dens, which he helped to shape in conjunction with the challenge now,” Halvorson Design Partnership, the Buildings & Grounds Bill says, “is to tell Committee of the Trustees, and many the world that we members of the staff. Birch Gardens are still open for Right: Bill and his sons, elaborates on an idea from the 1993 business; we have Cameron and Douglas, Master Plan. It is a linear interment to convince peo- on the Na Pali coast landscape offering shared memorials on of Kaui, Hawaii, April ple that this new 1999 a series of granite panels connected by landscape will a metal fence with finials copied from Below: Bill and his part- meet their needs ner, Ron Barbagallo, and the 19th-century originals embellish- for both burial the Clendaniel family dog, ing the Mount Auburn Street fence. and commemora- Schubert, at Wingaersheek At Bill’s insistence it includes a water tion.” Bill believes Beach, Gloucester Mount Auburn will continue implementing the principles of the 1993 Master Plan, hiring top-quality architects and landscape architects as it develops new space and new facilities. “We strive for excel- lence and innovation while adhering to our vision of preservation and service,” Bill says. While Mount Auburn will, to a degree, reflect the tides of public taste, it will not be steered exclusively by them. As Bill stresses, “One thing that sets us apart, even from our historical peers, is that we believe that ‘The customer is not always right.’ What the public may want is not necessarily in Mount Auburn’s best interests. Fortunately the Summer 2008 | 13