Preserving Urbana’s Past

Photo | Carrie Dietz

Urbana resident Laura Wood lends a helping hand at the historic Zion Cemetery in Urbana June 26.

Tombstones in Urbana’s Zion Cemetery received some tender loving care in June as experts from Lough Memorials in Frederick donated time to straighten and secure several tombstones in need of assistance. Later, volunteers spent a morning cleaning the burial markers.

Chris Jordan and Andy Marchetti with Lough used gravel and dirt as infill to right the leaning tombstones, which will prevent costly damage to them over time.

“Many were at risk of falling over,” said Terry Grimes, co-founder and co-chair of the Zion Preservation Committee, who noted that broken tombstones would have been “a small fortune to repair.”

Lough President Geoff Irwin paid a visit to the cemetery that day to help the project along as well.

A group of about 10 volunteers also spent a very hot, humid morning June 26 paying tribute to Urbana’s past residents as they cleaned tombstones throughout the cemetery. Using a gentle solution of ammonia and water and soft-bristled brushes, volunteers wiped away years of dirt and mildew, leaving the tombstones with a fresh new look.

In addition to the binding thread of family names on the stones, many of the tombstones had another common thread: the Lough Memorial imprint, which is a reminder of the company’s rich history in Frederick County dating back to 1874.

Urbana resident Laura Wood and her son, Michael, were glad to lend a hand and found the work rewarding. “It’s nice to preserve a bit of our community,” said Laura, who has lived in Urbana for 26 years.

Michael, a student at Frederick Community College, agreed and said he felt good about giving back to the community.

Restoring Zion Church and Cemetery has been a labor of love for those involved and was made possible with the help of organizations like the Delaplaine Foundation, the Randall Charitable Trust and the Ausherman Family Foundation, which matched the amount raised by the Zion Preservation Committee through a special program. “They all have been very supportive, and we are grateful,” said Knight Kiplinger, co-founder and co-chair of the Zion Preservation Committee.

As work continues on the site, Grimes welcomes help from the Urbana community and believes the result will benefit many. “There is so much you can learn about history of a community by just visiting the local cemeteries,” she said.

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