David Eslinger is the current general manager at Albany Rural Cemetery, formerly serving as the business development director since June 2020. Before that position, he worked in risk management and managed his own companies, including two insurance agencies. He holds a degree in economics and an master’s degree in business administration in finance and data analytics.
Q: What is your favorite part of your relatively new job?
A: The privilege of facilitating progress. Albany Rural is a grand and historic cemetery and needed many updates to compete in the modern world; it needed systems and staff that understood and could execute in today’s business environment. Adjunctly, I felt there existed a deep need to cultivate and rebuild many relationships. Relationships are the foundation of any business, and bereft of an intentional focus; one is doomed to regress. Lastly, I’ve changed the culture of ARC by empowering my staff so that everyone’s performance is a function of their desires and capabilities. Everyone owns their job to deliver the best customer experience possible to our community and our constituents.
Q: Is there a grave or set of graves that are your favorite, and why?
A: I’m passionate about Chester Arthur, not solely for the design of his tomb but primarily for his character and accomplishments. It’s an honor having him here and serving as a steward.
Q: You and Media Communications Director Paula Lemire were recently featured on the front cover of a national magazine, “American Cemetery & Cremation.” How did it feel to see your photo on the cover, and how beneficial is it to have national exposure for the cemetery?
A: I was excited for Albany Rural! This Cemetery is truly one of a kind; it is unequaled in both layout and landscape. Albany Rural Cemetery is often perceived as purely a historic cemetery — indeed, we have many famous persons buried here in addition President Chester Arthur. However, we perform burial and cremation services daily, and we have an abundance of space for traditional and cremation burials. Another caveat is that the article draws attention to the culture of Albany Rural — we are a very active cemetery with a highly active Friends organization, hosting a variety of interesting events monthly. Additionally, hundreds of people walk the cemetery each month for exercise purposes. During the height of the COVID pandemic, we served as an oasis for many people, offering individuals and families a place to walk and remove themselves from the isolation effects caused by the lockdowns. We want the community and lot owners to engage with us, feel welcomed inside these gates, and return Albany Rural to the days of its grandeur! So, I’m excited for the exposure created by the article.”
Q: Exposure is not something generally mentioned when referring to a cemetery, but that is something you said you are trying to accomplish. How are you going about that and why so much focus on it?
A: So, we focus on exposure for two reasons. First, we want to increase awareness of Albany Rural, not only for its historical value but as a glorious final address. Secondly, we want to engage with our followers, constituents, and community with relevant and valuable information. Electronic media is the mode of preference these days, so we focus on electronic communications such as Facebook and Instagram, in addition to our website. We’ve completely redesigned our website so visitors can quickly find the information they are seeking. We are building a vast asset inventory of podcasts, vodcasts, and other forms of communication for members of our Friends organization. We believe the topics and the content will drive engagement and thus more interest in the cemetery.
Q: If there is one person interned in the cemetery you could have lunch with, who would it be, and what would you talk about?
A: That’s a tough one, probably Dr. Alden March. He was an amazing individual. He was a farmer and a surgeon. I’d love to talk with him about the development in Albany Medical College and the multitude of surgeries he performed in the 1800’s. There is a common interest because I started college pre-med originally wanting to become a radiologist.
If you know someone you would like to see featured in Five Questions contact Jim Franco at 518-878-1000 or [email protected].