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Who is caretaker of the cemetery at Military Cutoff and Market Street?

Prospect Cemetery

Jessie Frederick places new flowers on her family's plot in the Prospect Cemetery in March 2010. (StarNews file photo)

It looks like there isn’t just one caretaker, but multiple ones. The upkeep of the cemetery, called Prospect Cemetery, appears to be dependent upon the loved ones who have family members and friends who are buried there.

“It’s not a perpetual care cemetery like Greenlawn,” said Sandee Spradley, daughter of Emma Yopp Murray, one of the founders of the Prospect Cemetery Historical Association. “If you’ve got family or friends buried there, it’s a cemetery where you help do the upkeep on it.”

The association was organized in 1977 to look after the 6.5-acre cemetery with Murray and three others as officers. Spradley said they thought a committee would help solve arising issues regarding people wanting to bury loved ones there and to help bring “consistency” with the burial process in the cemetery.

At one time the association hired someone to take care of maintenance for the cemetery.

“We had some money that was left to us by a lady that we used for a number of years because people weren’t going out and helping keep it clean. So for about 11 years we saw to it that someone went out and mowed the entire cemetery two, three or four times a year based on the amount of money we had and the interest that we had from the accounts.”

Today, Spradley said, the association doesn’t have the funds to hire someone to clean the cemetery.

“We’re back to everyone should be helping to take care of their own area … and please try to take care of one more, but they aren’t doing that now,” she said.

Today, the association still exists, but is not as active as it once was and no longer holds community meetings, but members still discuss the cemetery and try to maintain order for it.

As for the committee today, Spradley said, “It’s just to see that the cemetery is not abused, taken advantage of. You’ve got to have some group or committee to see that rules are being followed. Otherwise there would be more arguments over burials out there. We try to keep the peace.”

You can catch Spradley out in the cemetery helping clean it, often with her push lawnmower.

“I go when I can, and I mow what I can. It may not be any of my immediate family, but I just pick an area that needs it and I work on it – as long as my lawnmower will run and my blade will hold out,” she said.

Spradley said she gets a lot of phone calls from people wanting to know when she or someone is going to clean up the cemetery. She said she wishes more people would instead take time to come out and help clean it.

“I can’t tell you how many times I go out there and work, and I can’t tell you how many times others go out there and work, but we need more help.”

Spradley said some families do take the effort to clean parts of the cemetery and that some women call her to meet them at the cemetery to help clean. Spradley said she often drives her truck to help carry away debris after the cleanup. In the past, an Eagle Scout and some Girl Scouts have chosen to do clean-up projects at the cemetery.

Since there aren’t donations given to cover the costs of hiring a maintenance person, Spradley said improving the appearance of Prospect Cemetery basically boils down to more people who have loved ones at the cemetery coming out to help maintain their plots and helping with the other areas at the cemetery.

User-contributed question by:
Dondi Pace

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