Stillwater News Press

Local News

September 20, 2012

Volunteers maintain local cemetery in Stillwater

STILLWATER, Okla. — A group of individuals is dedicated to keeping one of Stillwater’s cemeteries up and running.

“It’s always been a community-owned cemetery,” said Yvonne Hornberger, CEO of Fairlawn Cemetery.

Hornberger is one of the cemetery’s board of directors who works with a group of lot owners and interested participants called the Fairlawn Cemetery Preservation Group.

According to the cemetery’s website, the group celebrated it’s six-month anniversary in April 2012.

The group aims to raise funds or receive in-kind donations to help keep the cemetery in good shape. The cemetery only employs three caretakers, including sexton Debbi Walling and two others.

“I’ve been here four years,” she said. “I sell the spaces, for one. We do the opening and closing on burials. We do all the lawn care.”

However, everyone else, including the board of directors and the preservation group, are volunteers.

“It’s very unique,” Walling said. “The only funds that we get for this cemetery is by selling spaces.”

The preservation group meets the third Monday of every month and includes approximately 15 people. Their outreach has helped assist Walling in her role.

“My son and I started repairing some of the monuments because there were about 20 that were on the ground,” she said.

Supplies needed to make those fixes were donated to them, a vast difference from years past.

“Up until last year, there was only one person that donated every year the last 20 years,” Hornberger said.

Because of the donations, many more repairs were able to be made.

“All together, we’ve done about 47 monuments that we’ve been able to fix because of the materials that were donated,” Walling said.

Other tasks the group is working on include getting trees donated to replace those damaged in last year’s wind storm and replacing the brick entrance wall that once stood at the west entrance.

A new gazebo which holds the location ledger for all the graves was recently gifted and is always open. Walling said word of mouth has gone a long way toward helping them. She said she believes the work, including normal mowing, edging and regular upkeep, is important.

“There’s a lot of history out here,” she said.

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