June 14, 2013
The Association for Gravestone Studies’ prestigious Oakley Certificate of Merit will be awarded to two Oregon historic cemetery associations and one individual during the association’s annual conference at Willamette University on Saturday, June 22 at the annual banquet. Receiving the awards will be the Friends of Lone Fir Cemetery, Luper Cemetery, Inc. and Dirk Siedlecki, a commissioner on the Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries and president of the Friends of Jacksonville Cemetery.
The Oakley Award is presented to individuals and groups that have helped to advance the mission of the Association. Founded in 1977, the Association for Gravestone Studies fosters the appreciation of the cultural significance of gravestones of all periods and styles and burying grounds through study and preservation.
The Friends of Lone Fir Cemetery is a volunteer organization created in Portland after a rash of vandalism at the cemetery. Its 2,000 members are dedicated to education, preservation and restoration for the area’s oldest cemetery and the largest of 14 pioneer cemeteries managed by Metro regional government.
Luper Cemetery is an historic pioneer cemetery located in a remote setting in Lane County. During the past four years, volunteers have worked to overcome its history of vandalism, degradation by weather and extreme neglect. Faced in the fall of 2009 with 90 percent of the headstones needing some level of restoration and no money, the Luper group found new financial, physical and technical assistance from Musgrove Family Mortuary, Roberts Surveying, the Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries, Donovan and Associates, and dozens of individuals. Volunteers have changed the long-neglected cemetery from a forgotten place to a well-maintained cemetery.
Dirk Siedlecki is serving his second term on the Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries. His activity includes organizing informal meetings of people working with Southern Oregon historic cemeteries to share information and gather data about the needs of the cemeteries, training volunteers to repair grave markers and drafting the commission’s educational bulletins and position papers. As president of the Friends of Jacksonville Cemetery he has helped establish procedures and programs that have created a dedicated volunteer organization with strong community support.
More information about the Association for Gravestone Studies is available at www.gravestonestudies.org . Its 36th annual conference takes place June 18-23 in Salem.