Then and Now
Some of Valley View’s history is unknown but from articles and conversations with clients it seems Valley View Memorial Park had somewhat of a rocky start. In 1957, Valley View was opened by a group of investors. Manhattan families invested in grave lots because of the beautification and maintenance it had. Then, without warning the investors left town with the cemetery money including perpetual care funds. Without care, the cemetery became an unsightly mess of weeds and disarray. An article in the Kansas Historian by Albert Hamscher notes that a ““definite boost to the beauty of Manhattan” foreseen in 1955 had become by 1967 “an unmowed, unkept weed patch,” a “nightmare” that caused “slow heartbreak” for lot owners”(1). It is said this group and others took advantage of Kansas communities. Unfortunately, the results of investigation, remain a mystery. This article goes on to say “There is no need to continue this dreary litany of charges of fraud and deceit leveled at some memorial-park operators. The scandals were sufficiently well publicized to prompt the state legislature to add new rules governing the management of perpetual care funds and to subject the owners of for-profit cemeteries to periodic state audits of their perpetual care trusts”(2).
Once the Riley County attorney and Kansas Secretary of State became involved, Valley View was placed in receivership and eventually entrusted to Burke Bayer, a prominent Manhattan businessman and owner of Bayer Construction. He, in turn, charged his nephew, Lysle Oppenlander, with management responsibilities. For a number of years, the property was maintained and records kept, making Valley View a peaceful cemetery once again. Illness followed and as health declined, so did Valley View. Letters to the edition were written in the newspaper as well as to the Attorney General. Receivership loomed again.
Fast forward to July 5, 2016, when Valley View was purchased and Mark and Caron Berges were tasked with Valley View’s maintenance and administration. Mark spent hundreds of hours removing overgrowth and repairing the grounds to bring the park back to life once again. Another goal was to verify and computerize the records ensuring history be preserved. Now it’s a beautiful and tranquil environment where guests are invited for special occasions such as the Memorial Day celebration which gives the community a sense of contentment once again. Valley View is a “full-service cemetery” where Peace of Mind through Pre-Planning is the focus.
In 2017, the Valley View’s Pet Haven opened for those beloved pets, allowing families a properly memorialize these important members of their family. In 2018, the Celebration Center was built providing an office and multi-purpose space where Life is Celebrated. Built to have room for up to 50 guests, indoor services, receptions and other events take place there. In the Center a office was established and Valley View Monuments was opened to assist with the purchase of monuments, markers and vaults. The most recent addition is the new “Matthew” granite columbarium located at the right side of the Jesus statue. This columbarium allows those interested in cremation an opportunity to be memorialized in a beautiful and dignified way for just a fraction of traditional costs.
Please stop by and visit us when you have a chance! In the meantime, take a look at this new and improved website. It should give you an idea of the diversification at Valley View, your full-service cemetery in what we know as the Little Apple, Manhattan, Kansas.
What to Do Next...
Valley View Memorial Park is committed to care for others to the best of our ability to ensure Peace of Mind will be the focus in all stages of life. All your cemetery needs can be found here. Don’t wait until its to late, to talk to someone about your desires or to help someone else to be prepared. Contact us Today!