MACON - The Greenwood Cemetery already has a designated groundskeeper, but the level of cleanup needed for the local burial ground forced the Macon Community Club that owns and maintains it to call in reinforcements.
So Tommy Leonard and wife Judy, the community club treasurer and cemetery chairperson, put in a call to Oakville Hunt Club President Harold Vaughan.
“They said, ‘Yes. When do you need us?’” Tommy said of the hunt club’s response.
More than 20 of the hunt club members showed up along with Tommy, Judy and Harold’s wife Kim to tidy up Greenwood Cemetery on the evening of Sunday, April 11. They spent five hours trimming, limbing, digging, weed eating, and picking up nine dump trailers worth of pine cones and brush.
It was no coincidence that one of their own was laid to rest here in recent years: Harry Stegall Jr., better known in the area by his CB radio handle “94.” The former Oakville Hunt Club president’s headstone even includes the nickname, along with an image of an old tractor and a pair of hunting hounds.
They did it for families like the Stegalls, Rosses, Vaughans, and Thompsons. The majority of the volunteers have relatives buried here.
“If your parents were buried here and you came to visit, you’d want to see it look nice,” Judy said. “That’s the way I feel about it. Our family is buried here and we care about how it looks. You can’t just do one spot and not do it all.”
Greenwood Cemetery had been overcome by overgrown trees and and hedges, even after Peter Hight had hauled off loads of downed pine tree limbs from winter ice storms.
“You couldn’t see the headstones hardly from the road,” Tommy said of the cemetery’s status before the recent cleanup.
Macon Community Club President and Macon Methodist Pastor Betty Willis wasn’t able to attend, but the former Littleton mayor has taken an active role in the Macon community. That’s another reason the community club, which operates via donations and fundraising, needed help; its membership is aging out and has dwindled down to six women.
The Greenwood Cemetery is as important of a place in town as any; a place to pay respects and a place to walk through history, learning about past prominent families like the Thorntons, who occupy multiple headstones near the front of the lot at Church Hill Road. The Leonards, the community club and Oakville Hunt Club hope to preserve that spirit, and other area organizations are anticipated to follow the hunt club’s example in the future.
“We want it to look good for the community,” Tommy said. “This is a big thing for the Macon community.”
“If it doesn’t get done,” Judy added, “who is going to do it?”
Donations can be mailed to: MCC/Greenwood Cemetery, 284 Oakville Road, Macon, NC 27551.