Home News Local News Memory Lawn plants trees for many reasons

Memory Lawn plants trees for many reasons

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Crews with Custom Construction and Roofing LLC, including Louis Valero, in front, and Hunter Aeralto, dig holes Friday morning for Italian cypress trees at Memory Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery on East 19th Street. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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A nonprofit cemetery in the area is in the midst of a project intended to improve the property and serve as living memorials.

One hundred trees at Memory Lawn Memorial Park are expected to be planted early this coming week, with all but a few to be near the entranceways fronting East 19th Street.

“The trees are meant for aesthetics, a wind break, noise abatement and privacy when a funeral is being conducted,” said Henry Mayhew.

Born in Roswell, Mayhew has relatives buried at Memory Lawn. He leads the nonprofit Memory Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery Corp. that has owned and operated the property since March 2018.

Site work on the $25,000 tree project began Friday as crews from Custom Construction and Roofing LLC began digging holes and trenches and laying the pipes for the irrigation system.

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Brandon Arnold of Custom Construction said he expected to start planting the 100 Italian cypress trees on Monday, with a day or two of work expected for all of them to be in place.

The trees — chosen because they are expected to be resilient, long-living and suited to the weather of the area — were purchased from a nursery in Los Lunas, Mayhew said.

People soon will be able to make donations to dedicate a tree in the memory of a loved one, he said, with proceeds to be used for the benefit of the cemetery. Details about that will be announced in the coming weeks.

Mayhew and the nine or so partners of the nonprofit received ownership of the cemetery just east of the Roswell city limits from a court-appointed receivership established in about 2011. The receivership was ordered as the result of a 2009 lawsuit with many plaintiffs, including Mayhew. They said that the former owner, who has since died, had misused funds intended for the upkeep of the property and had allowed the cemetery to fall into disrepair. The 5-acre cemetery and surrounding parcels have been owned by about six different entities over its 69-year history.

Since taking over about two years ago, the Memory Lawn nonprofit has established a local office, hired staff to manage cemetery records and current interments, repaired the water pump, cleared debris, restored some lettering on sculptures, and raised some grave sites and grave markers that had sunk due to heavy rains. Mayhew has said that he has spent more than $50,000 of his own money on the property.

He and his partners have developed a rehabilitation plan estimated to cost about $200,000 for the cemetery, which has more than 2,000 people interred, about 4,000 sold plots and about 6,066 total plots. The long-term plans will proceed as money becomes available and include creating online and on-site maps showing the locations of all who are buried there, aligning grave markers in straight rows, making walking paths, improving some of the roads and installing security cameras.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.