Waterfront memorial trail to be dedicated Parsons Cemetery

Parsons Trail 1

(Rick Fahey Photo)

A new waterfront memorial trail and cremation garden at Parsons Cemetery will be dedicated Sept. 20, as harp music plays in the peaceful atmosphere.

Kara Dahl Russell will play harp at the 2 p.m. event.

The trail and garden were built as a place for ashes of those cremated, as a restful area for visitors and to raise money to maintain the grounds. “It’s all done. People can walk down there. The public can walk through,” said Carol Smith, a member of the committee formed to operate the cemetery.

“The center has a big circular path that’s a gathering area. It’s a walkway. It’s brick and stone and goes down close to the water with a stone wall seating area. In the middle of it is a millstone because the original Parsons were millers. Most of the original people here were millers. A brick walkway meanders down to the waterfront and comes back up the roadway,” Smith explained.

Although ashes from cremations can’t be sprinkled on the water, families can permanently memorialize the deceased by placing remains in outdoor monuments, which act as urns.

The committee purchased 20 monuments that will be set up and for sale on the waterfront, and there are hundreds of other spaces available.

The cemetery is open to anyone of any religion.

“The entire history of Salisbury rests in that cemetery. The sole reason we made this is to create a perpetual fund so we can maintain the cemetery. People have no idea what it costs. The committee has a mission statement and it’s to manage the cemetery because it’s still an operational cemetery,” she said.

Cemetery property was bequeathed to the church  property in 1873. In 2000, George W. Parsons left $400,000 for a perpetual care fund.

“The cemetery is such an integral part of our community,” Smith said.

“The committee’s role is to grow the fund while managing the cemetery. The committee has effectively done both and is now moving from improving previously undeveloped areas and management to greater restoration, beautification and honoring its history and that of those resting there,” she said.

With an annual budget of about $100,000, expenses include salaries, contractors, buildings and grounds maintenance and grass cutting.

“The people who live around the cemetery walk in the cemetery all the time. They jog through the cemetery. They ride their bikes through the cemetery,” she said.

“This is Johnson’s Lake community. It’s where Mayor Ireton lives. There are old houses and  old neighborhoods from the ’20s.

“The cemetery is peaceful. Its’ a very peaceful area.  People visit the cemetery all the time because they enjoy the natural park-like setting. You see people there sometimes just sitting, just feeling,” she said.


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