Heller Garden and Columbarium unveiled at Woodlawn Cemetery
Elmira, NY (WENY) -- A dedication ceremony was held at Woodlawn Cemetery, celebrating a burial plot unlike any other. The Heller Garden was unveiled. It bares the name of the family who sold their property to the then village of Elmira that later became the cemetery.
Music rang throughout Woodlawn Cemetery, but it wasn't funeral music or music for those who mourn. The melancholy Presbyterian’s song were part of the Heller Garden dedication ceremony.
“The project is a culmination of two years of effort, a very generous community.” said Jim Hare, a board member for the Friends of Woodlawn Cemetery.
Taking center stage at the celebration was the columbarium, a final resting places for peoples ashes. The oxford dictionary defines it as a “room or building with niches for funeral urns to be stored. The $71,000 project was courtesy of the friends of Woodlawn, who were able to raise the money through donations and charitable organizations.
“We decided this project was so worth while that we should also use the opportunity to honor the family who first sold the land for this cemetery.” said Hare.
Judith Sheasley's relatives spoke about her great grandparents, both Charles and Mary Neish Hellers' generosity. The Hellers sold over 100 acres to his hometown.
“They were Scottish Presbyterians at least on the niche side so I do think that speaks to their community interest involvement.” said Sheasley.
It's a community that'll surely use the columbarium. The cemetery''s superintendent said more than 50% of people are now asking to be cremated. They've also already sold 7 niches. There's already one family forever etched in stone. Part of the ceremony included recognizing part of the Baynes family and speaking with the superintendent he says this columbarium could be filled up with ashes within the next two years.
“Each niche will hold 2 sets of aches, so you've got mother and wife and husband or whatever. Or whatever you want to do you know.” said Bryce Cuile, Woodlawn's Superintendent.
Dozens of names will be etched into the monuments. But like the song, the name on the front will live forever.
“It speaks well to the city of Elmira that they honor their ancestors and the work people are doing.” said Sheasley.
The columbarium will make sure Heller's legacy isn't lost in the sands of time.