Cemetery walk brings fond memories

Published 8:50 am Thursday, April 28, 2011

I recently began and completed my first spring walk outdoors. You remember the day; we set a record high for this time of the year with temperatures approaching 88 degrees.

As per normal, I walked to the rear of Woodland Cemetery, turned right, and walked into what is called the Coal Grove section. I made the loop and then turned right and walked the short walk to Calvary Cemetery, perhaps 75 yards. What a difference a year makes!

Improvements were begun last summer by a group of volunteers led by J.C. Medinger. To my surprise, I saw that the general cleanup had not stopped, even due to a hard, cold winter that included several deep snowfalls.

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The first thing I noticed was a new fence along with a gate on rollers. To the left of the gate is a five-foot opening, allowing one to get in, even when the gate is closed.

The grass is well manicured, and several trees long past their prime had been removed. In their place 55 dogwood trees, 10 sunset maple trees, and five Cleveland pear trees, planted last summer, are now beginning a rapid growth that will see them mature in just a few short years. The Calvary Stone, formerly at the entrance on the right, had been moved to a beautiful triangle about 20 yards inside the entrance, surrounded by plants. New, wire trash containers are spread out through the entire cemetery.

As I continued my walk clockwise around Calvary Cemetery, I always look upon the graves of two very good Hornet football players, George Patterson in Section L, and Pooch Carey in Section M-2. Clarence Carey, a member of the first Hornet football team (1928), lies in Section H.

Of course, I always look at the burial sites of Bob Linn, former owner of Bob Linn Sporting Goods, a great friend to all the athletic departments in the county during his lifetime. Gene Unger, former owner of Unger’s Shoes, lies directly opposite of Bob Linn.

Was there ever a more friendly person? It was fun to shop at Unger’s Shoes, just to have the chance to talk with this fine man.

I could go on and on about other people buried in Calvary Cemetery. Old Ironton names such as Holtzapfel, Stuntebeck, Lutz, Davis, Meehan, Medinger, Malhmeister, Geswein, and Krell are on the headstones. I played high school football against many of their sons. My walks always bring back memories of those days. Ah, to be young again.

The volunteers who have given so much of their free time making solid improvements to Calvary Cemetery deserve to be recognized. According to one of the organizers, they included: Mike and Terri Citti, Jim Clay, Tony Compliment, Dennis Dickess, Joe Doughman, Mike and Shawn Hacker, Mark and Andrea Harvey, Jim and Joy Heighton, Chris Holtzapfel, Larry and Pat Holtzapfel, Bob Holmes, Fr. David Huffman, Bill Johnson, Roger Jones, Barb Lutz, Jim and Katie Lutz, John Mathis, Mike McFann, J.C. Medinger, Carol Moran, Gary Runyan, Barb Waginger, David Waginger, Joe Waginger, John Waginger, Mike and Mariclare Waginger, and Paul Waginger. Meat Compliment is the caretaker.

Through their tireless efforts, Calvary Cemetery has gone from being just another small cemetery to one of the top ten small cemeteries in the entire State of Ohio. The next time you visit a loved one in Woodland Cemetery, go out the back gate, turn left, and take a quick drive through this hidden Lawrence County jewel.

Mike Nourse is a retired educator and contributing columnist for The Ironton Tribune. He lives in Coal Grove with wife Clara Gail, also a retired educator.