Mason has chiselled name in history

By John Maslin

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Like his father before him, Richard Anderson has racked up more than 60 years as a monumental mason. Now it's time for a well-earned retirement. Photo / Stuart Munro
Like his father before him, Richard Anderson has racked up more than 60 years as a monumental mason. Now it's time for a well-earned retirement. Photo / Stuart Munro

The old saying "like father, like son" runs through the veins of the Anderson family in Whanganui.

And yesterday Richard Anderson chalked up a milestone as a monumental mason that matched that set by his late father in the family business.

The date had other significance too because, on January 12, 1951, he started work for his father in Anderson Memorials in Aramoho. And, like his father before him, Mr Anderson, 80, will walk away having completed 65 years in the company.

The 102-year-old Anderson Memorials has supplied most of the headstones in Aramoho cemetery. Photo / Stuart Munro
The 102-year-old Anderson Memorials has supplied most of the headstones in Aramoho cemetery. Photo / Stuart Munro

That longevity looks like continuing too, with Mr Anderson's son Tony taking over the business, and having had more than 30 years in the job.

"I'm proud of what our family has achieved. Most people who come in here don't know the front of a headstone from the back, so it's nice to feel there are a lot of people out there who we've helped."

His grandfather started the business in 1914. He was astute enough to set it up on its Somme Pde site because a year later the then borough council opened up the land across the road as the city's cemetery.

With a business that spans more than a century, there aren't many headstones in the Aramoho cemetery that haven't come from Anderson Memorials.

In his time as a monumental mason, Mr Anderson has seen significant changes in how the headstones are created.

"When I started, it was all hammer and chisel before we went to using a pneumatic hammer. Sandblasting followed even though that still meant we had to mark the letters on to the stone.

"We still use sandblasting today, but computers are used to mark out the inscription before we transfer the masking on to the stone and sandblast it."

While retirement will see him take some "time out", an initial focus will be making good the family property on Riverbank Rd, which was damaged in the June floods last year. "I've had a lot of landscaping and remodelling to do, and there's still work to be done. But I'll unwind first. I'm not a bowler or golfer, but we've got a big property and that'll keep me busy."

Yesterday, Mr Anderson hosted a morning tea for staff, local funeral directors and the team who work in the Aramoho cemetery; all people Mr Anderson has had a long association with.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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