To learn from those who came before us, to learn of their struggles and sacrifices, teaches us to be prepared and to put our own priorities in place.
We entered a new decade on January 1. 2020. This is also a new chapter for Evergreen Heritage, formerly known as Evergreen Cemetery Benevolent Society.
Twenty years ago, because of deep concerns at Fairview Cemetery, I contacted Will deBoer, the Manager at the time, to discuss why the city was not caring for its cemetery and for the gravesites of those who created the city we love today.
He explained the policies of the city and the position Evergreen and Fairview Cemeteries are in, because they are City "Enterprises". As an Enterprise, Evergreen and Fairview Cemeteries do not receive any money from the city's general fund. The only money the cemetery receives is through the purchase of gravesites. All funding for repairs and restoration is through fundraising events and individual donations. The city has never been responsible for the gravestones. When a person purchases a gravesite, the families have purchased the right to burial, and it is their responsibility to care for their family's headstones, following city ordinances put in place to maintain the cemetery for everyone.
As family members die or move away, there is often no one left to care for these older, historic
With Mr. deBoer's suggestion, I took it upon myself to create the Annual Evergreen Cemetery Walking Tour, in 2000, to raise funds for the historic chapel.
The Annual Memorial Day Event was added in 2010.
Wreaths Across America was added three years ago.
Each of these events is important in not only raising needed funds for cemetery repair and restoration but to introduce the public to the beauty and history at Evergreen and Fairview Cemeteries.
In 2019 Evergreen Cemetery Benevolent Society evolved into Evergreen Heritage, which more accurately reflects our mission.
Fairview Cemetery is now included as one of our project sites.
Last summer, Evergreen Heritage opened a visitor center in the old business office at Evergreen Cemetery. Unfortunately, we experienced a few setbacks on two occasions because of vandalism to the building.
However, those setbacks are minor compared to the setbacks many of our early pioneers faced. As we learn from their stories, we learn how they overcame setbacks to come out on top and that is exactly what we will do.
We will open again this summer, on a limited basis, and are looking for volunteers to provide basic information to visitors to the cemetery.
We need everyone who believes in our mission and the importance of both Evergreen and Fairview Cemetery to become a member and support us in keeping this valuable history alive.