By Russ and Tiña De Maris
There are thousands of RVers who make a living on the road. Perhaps the largest number of positions for these “work campers” is that of campground host. Others work as traveling company representatives, some deliver RVs. But finding the dead?
It’s not as quirky as it may seem off the top. Just ask Len Strozier. For 35 years Len’s calling was that of a minister, but acting as pastor to large numbers of folks eventually lead to burnout. Len had to find another way to make his daily bread. From close contact with the living, Len ended up having close contact with the dead. Strozier trained and developed the art of the use of ground penetrating radar (GPR), the science of using equipment that uses radar pulses to take “pictures” of what’s below ground.
Len describes himself as a “cemetarian,” someone interested in the history and preservation of cemeteries. He says he comes by it naturally. Len elaborates, “I’m not interested in the macabre, but the connection heritage.” As far back as he can remember, he’s been fascinated by final resting places, and enjoys helping to preserve them.
But those final resting places are getting harder to find. Between 2024 and 2042, around 76 million Americans will hit their average life expectancy of 78 years. If each wanted a burial plot, the graves alone (not to speak of access roads) would take up 130 square miles of land, an area the size of Las Vegas. There’s a finite limit as to how much space is available for gravesites, and they’re getting costly. The average one costs about $1,000, but Strozier cites one mid-Atlantic cemetery that demands $4,000 each – the space is getting so tight.
Here’s where Len’s vocation comes into play. As existing cemeteries “fill up,” Len contracts to come in and, using his high-tech radar equipment, he performs a complete survey of the grounds. He may locate previously unknown gravesites, which are plotted via the use of a GPS system, and then mapped. But of great importance to cemetery managers, he also locates where burials don’t exist. In one cemetery he confirmed 2,000 “open” spots that can be sold for future gravesites, enhancing the cemetery’s ability to provide a needed product. It may take a few days or even a month to map out a graveyard, and for as long as it takes, Len and his RV are parked right there in a most unusual “boondocking” location. “My RV is my hotel, my restaurant, my office, and my break room,” Len points out.
But grave location isn’t the only work that occupies Len Strozier’s professional time. He also helps municipalities locate “lost” underground utilities. He’s not always finding graves and pipes either, he recollects the time he once located a time capsule in Warm Springs, Georgia. There’s quite a history associated with that capsule. In April 1939, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had the capsule buried to celebrate the opening of a new wing at the local hospital. Sadly, someone else had previously found the capsule and looted it. Nevertheless, the piece of history was relocated by Len and his technology.
Head-hunting is also on Len’s resume. No, we’re not talking skulls here – well, maybe we are. Len needs RVers’ skulls that are still alive and well, and interested in getting involved in the grave location business. At present, Len is working on a potential contract with Uncle Sam’s Department of Veterans Affairs. The plan is that Len’s company, Omega Mapping Services, will send cemetarians to 49 VA cemeteries across the United States. The project doesn’t entail locating “missing” graves, so there wouldn’t be a need for using ground penetrating radar. Instead, the workers will work out the precise location of each grave marker in a given cemetery using GPS technology, then photograph that same marker. In the end, the VA would be provided a map and photo of each burial plot in the cemetery. A database of all those buried in VA cemeteries can be developed, making it easy for relatives and history buffs to locate the gravesites of anyone in the VA system.
Len’s looking for RVers interested in getting involved in the project. His company would provide the necessary training of the GPS equipment and provide the assignments. He’s quick to point out that those who take on this work would be using their RV as their place of business and would be able to use it as a tax deduction. He thinks it’s the perfect job for an RVer looking to make a living, and dry camp across the country.
Campground host? Caretaker? Add “cemetarian” to the list of unusual occupations that RVers can take on when they hit the road and make a living at the same time.
Learn more about Len Strozier’s unusual business by visiting his website.
Have an unusual way you make a living while RVing? We’d love to hear about it! Drop an email to us at Russ (at) RVtravel.com .