Thursday, Jun 30, 2016
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Monroe to take over cemetery

MONROE - Woodland Cemetery, the final resting place for some of Monroe County's most noteworthy residents, will become city property managed by a competing cemetery under the terms of a multifaceted deal announced yesterday in Monroe City Hall.

The agreement effectively ends several years of searching by the nonprofit Woodland Cemetery Association for someone to care for the 19th century cemetery and its roughly 7,000 gravesites.

Under terms of the deal, the city will take possession of the property and will guarantee money is available for its operation and maintenance. The nonprofit board of Roselawn Memorial Park in LaSalle will manage the cemetery itself and try to sell the remaining 320 plots.

Routine upkeep of the facility will continue to be handled by trusties from the Monroe County jail and probationers from the county's JAWS program. Meanwhile, the Community Foundation of Monroe County and the Monroe County Historical Society will attempt to raise enough money to keep Woodland's perpetual care account flush with cash for the foreseeable future.

“I told [a friend] that I was probably going to cry before this was all over with,” said an emotional Patricia Vincent, president of the Woodland Cemetery Association, who has helped to care for the cemetery for several decades.

Woodland, on Monroe's east side, has operated for years through the generosity of a handful of volunteers, including Mrs. Vincent and her husband, Russell, who took over the cemetery's operation when it had just $7 in its perpetual care account.

When the transfer is finally completed next week, the association will turn over about $185,000 to the city that will be used as seed money to build an endowment that will pay for the cemetery's maintenance and expenses for centuries to come, Monroe City Manager Robert Hamilton said. Monroe City Council is scheduled to give final approval of the deal at its meeting Monday.

Woodland Cemetery has nearly 7,000 gravesites, 1,780 of which date from the 19th century.

Along with members of the Custer family, it is the final resting place for Isaac P. Christiancy, founder of the Michigan Republican Party; George F. Heath, founder of the American Numismatic Association, and Sarah Bates Lawrence, founder and namesake of Sarah Lawrence College.

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