Remembrance walk draws 500

December 06, 1996


Staff Writer

Natalie Wills walked from Rose Hill Cemetery to City Park on Friday night with her family as part of a ceremony to remember lost loved ones during the holiday season.

The ceremony helps her and her family remember her cousin, John David Jackson Jr., 7, who died Feb. 1, said Wills, 19, of Hagerstown. Jackson died after he fell off of his bike and hit his head on the pavement at the intersection of Prospect Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

This Christmas will be tougher to get through, said Wills, who used to babysit her young cousin.

Wills was one of an estimated 500 people who turned out for the remembrance ceremony and procession. It was the fourth year the Rose Hill Cemetery at 600 S. Potomac St. held the ceremony, said Bill Divelbiss, Rose Hill's manager.


The Remembrance Tree at the cemetery, a 65-foot white pine tree with more than 1,000 lights, was lit at the beginning of the ceremony. Afterward, South Hagerstown High School's choir sang Christmas carols.

Brooke Mulligan, 19, of Hagerstown, decided to attend the ceremony with about eight family members to remember her grandmother, Rose Colombo, who passed away nine years ago.

"I just feel she knows that everybody is here," Mulligan said.

Friday night's remembrance ceremony was the first for Pam and John Keefauver.

The Keefauvers have four family members buried at Rose Hill, including his mother, Mary Richards, who passed away in 1995.

It was the third year Mable Armstrong and her daughter Sharron Silvers had attended the remembrance ceremony for it was just over three years ago that Armstrong's son Matthew died at the age of 32 of complications from AIDS.

Matthew Armstrong may be remembered by many local residents as the man who led the Hagerstown Municipal Band in the Mummers' Parade from 1978 to 1984. He was a baton twirler in the parade for about 19 years.

The family decorates Armstrong's grave for every holiday, said Silvers, 41, of Hagerstown. There is a Christmas tree, a snowman and wreaths for the holiday season, she said.

"It really brings back some strong feelings," Silvers said of the ceremony.

Mable Armstrong, 60, of Boonsboro, said the ceremony also helps her deal with recent losses. She lost two family members and about five friends during the month of November.

"I don't want last month to come back," she said.

The procession along Memorial Boulevard ended at City Park with the park's holiday lights and Christmas tree being lit.

Rose Hill Cemetery's two Living Memorial Trees will feature the names of about 700 lost loved ones on lavender bows until the end of the holiday season.

At that time, a drawing will be held with the names on the bows. The two memorial trees will be planted in memory of the two people whose names are drawn.

Divelbiss said he will hold onto the bows for about 60 days after the new year for anyone who wants to come by the cemetery and pick up the bow of a loved one.

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