VIEWPOINT | Woodmen Cemetery is home to our heritage

The Langley Woodmen Cemetery is pushing 105 years and it’s going strong.

If you haven’t been to the cemetery, up at the end of Al Anderson Avenue, come visit, because it’s one of South Whidbey’s special places. The tall firs with their quirky topping now grown to multiple spires, the rhododendrons in the spring, the standing stones of the Ash Garden, the family plots of Langley’s pioneer families: the cemetery is not only the resting place for our loved ones, it’s a park. Preserved as open space, the cemetery holds our history and those closest to our hearts.

Back in 1995, the city of Langley nearly sold the cemetery, because it was burdened by debt and unfulfilled maintenance demands.

That’s when the Friends of the Langley Woodmen Cemetery, a community-based nonprofit, was founded to help the city care for the cemetery. We raised money for a riding mower and maintained the cemetery for five years, saving the city enough money so that a new section could be developed, just as the old one was getting full. The cemetery became financially viable again.

Now another part of the cemetery is being developed — the Ash Garden, a memorial garden for the ashes of our loved ones — and the Friends are helping to establish and care for this new area.

We are organizing a work party from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 18 for fall cleanup and to create a trail into the forest where ashes can be spread. Come help us get everything ready for the Ash Garden dedication.

Each year, on Nov. 1, All Soul’s Eve, the Friends hold a community remembrance event. Luminaries line the road and visitors receive luminaries that they can place on graves, or in an area for loved ones not buried in the cemetery. As the evening progresses, the cemetery fills with light. This year, join us on Saturday, Nov. 1, for our All Soul’s Eve celebration. Come anytime between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m.

With all these activities, the Friends serve a vital supporting role in the ongoing care of the cemetery. We also raise money for plantings and an endowment fund, the interest of which is available to the city should the need arise.

Together with the Langley Cemetery Board, our common mission is to make sure that the cemetery never falls on hard times again, and that it continues to be the beautiful place of solace it is.

So, come visit this special place. Remember those you love on All Soul’s Eve, Nov. 1. And come help us care for the cemetery on Oct. 18.

Cary Peterson is president of Friends of the Langley Woodmen Cemetery.

FLWC board members are Marilyn Strong (vice president and Cemetery Board representative), Ray Haman (secretary), Jeanne Hunsinger (treasurer), Jim Ellison, Margot Jerome, George Mason, Mully Mullally and Joni Takanikos.

For information, call Peterson at 221-6046 or e-mail cary@whidbey.com.

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