Woodland Cemetery has more stories

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, April 29, 2009

As I continue my walk through the interior of Woodland Cemetery, I often look upon gravestones of people once close to me.

My boss for 16 years of my career in education, Oakley Collins, his wife Juanita, and son Mark are near the main entrance (Section 9). Gail’s Uncle Gene Willis is nearby in this same section.

My Aunt Geraldine’s husband Jim Blakeman along with son Jimmy is located near the caretaker’s building, Section 11A.

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Jack Richendollar can be seen visiting with Bettie just across the road (Section 11) several times a week. Neighbor Donna Barton’s husband Dick lies nearby in this section as does long time friend Ray Guthrie.

Just around the corner (Section 22) lies childhood friend Frotch Fields. His sister Joann Drummond’s husband Leland is just behind Frotch. My wife’s uncle Edsel Yates is also buried here.

Just a stone’s throw away in Section 12 lies Ray (Sonny) Stewart. I often see Judy visiting with him. Morris and Rose Melvin, parents of neighbor Carolyn Melvin, are also in this section. We are all just passin’ through.

Continuing my walk along the back fence, I pass the headstone of Steven Oderkirk, son of a new friend, Sharon Odekirk.

I turn right and see many more people that I once knew. Another of the best athletes ever at Coal Grove, Bill Boyd, is on my left in Section B.

I know that Bill Jr. and Glenna miss him always. My father’s good friend John Matney lies near Bill.

His headstone reads “NOT HERE – JUST GONE HOME.” Across the road in Section A lies another of Coal Grove’s many good football coaches, Paul (Pat) Patterson.

We are all just passin’ through.

I am now near Woodland Abbey. My own grandparents, Ralph and Bess Nourse, lie just across the road in Section B. Nearby are their friends Harold and Rose Vaughn and Gib and Rosemary Beals.

Their friendly rivals in the grocery business and good friends Marion and Mary Melvin lie nearby in Section H. The Lowry Mausoleum, the largest in Woodland, is also near.

The circumstances surrounding his death are still much discussed today.

The infants’ section is located at the rear of Section 16, close to the back gate. My father’s brother, Raymond Earl, is buried here. Poor little fellow (Nov. 10-20, 1927) lived only 11 days.

There always seems to be a flower on his grave. Thanks, Sue and Geraldine. We are all just passin’ through.

I am now ending my walk near Woodland’s back gate.

To my right in Section 18 near Tri-State Industries lie my wife’s mother and stepfather, Opal and Franklin Deeds.

Near them are Jerry Fields’ father and sister, Austin and Sue. On my left (Section 16) are high school friend Merrill Humphrey’s parents, Harold and Sadie. As I near the back gate, on my right are three headstones with the name Willis.

Gail’s uncle Bob Willis and grandparents James and Alice Willis are near the road. Her uncle Glenn Willis is buried in the back row against the fence. Friends Darrell and Ron Davis’s father, Floyd, lies just a few yards away. We are all just passin’ through.

I have walked Woodland Cemetery perhaps 1,000 times. One thought has struck me many times.

I often see headstones of individuals who have lived 80 to 90 years of age on this earth. Yet they have been dead 50 to 60 years. It reminds me that we are all just passin’ through.

To me, the most important verses in the Bible are John 3:16-17:

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that He gave his only son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:17 – For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.

This is a free gift. There are no strings or hidden conditions attached.

Remember, we are all just passin’ through.

Mike Nourse, a retired educator, is a contributing columnist for The Tribune and lifetime resident of Coal Grove. He lives less than a mile from the back gate of Woodland Cemetery with wife Clara Gail, also a retired educator.