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Northfield -- For nearly 120 years, a local organization has been dedicated to making the Northfield-Macedonia Cemetery a little more eye-appealing. The Northfield-Macedonia Cemetery Association aims to beautify the cemetery by taking care of endowed graves and planting flowers, trees and shrubs.
"You want to be able to look around and be like, 'You know, this is a nice cemetery,'" said association president and 13-year member Earl Kane.
The 19 members plant the endowed graves yearly with geraniums. To maintain the look of the cemetery, they also pull weeds and plant other trees and shrubs. Kane said the association works in the "back scene" of the cemetery and picks up where the maintenance crew leaves off.
"We share the responsibility with the maintenance people. Like, [they] bake the cake, we put the frosting on," he said.
According to a history of the cemetery written by Vivian Burns, the Northfield-Macedonia Cemetery Association was founded in 1894, after the "town fathers" called on the settlement's women to form an association to care for and beautify the cemetery. Membership was initially restricted to women, and each of the 16 original members paid annual dues of 25 cents. Men could become honorary members and paid 50 cents per year. When the dues couldn't match expenditures, the association began selling "endowments" for a one-time fee of $100 per single grave site.
The association's 19 members meet the fourth Thursday of each month, with the exception of January and February, at the Nordonia Hills branch library.
"We have a potluck lunch at the meetings and discuss what needs to be done," said association secretary Sharon Kane, Earl's wife.
In addition to the Kanes, officers installed at the association's June picnic include vice-president Robert Chevrier and treasurer Elaine Nidy. Any member of the group can volunteer to be an officer, and Kane said the officers have been the same for several years due to the small membership. Nidy is the exception, since she was just installed as an officer this past year.
About 10 members are very active in the association and come to the meetings regularly. One dedicated member is Esther Early, who is almost 95 years old and has been in the association for over 50 years. Her mother was in the club before her, and now her daughter is a member.
"I like the fact that I've lived in Northfield almost all my life" and the cemetery is still maintained, she said.
Many other members have a family history with the association as well. Sharon Kane, for example, is a third generation member. Both of her parents and her grandmother were part of the association in the past. She convinced her husband to join with her 13 years ago.
The endowed graves are marked and receive regular care and maintenance. An endowment now costs $125.
Earl Kane said the association plants geraniums because the bright flowers "fill the void" of the graves. Most graves get three geraniums, but some people pay extra and receive up to six on their grave.
Girl Scouts and other local volunteers weed the graves and members do other work around the cemetery.
Sharon Kane said that for the past two years, members planted the triangle visible from Route 8 with hollies, roses and a hydrangea tree. The association also erected a sign in the area.
"For years, it was like an eyesore" due to a dead tree in the triangle, said Earl Kane.
Anyone in the community is welcome to join the Northfield-Macedonia Cemetery Association. Dues are $1 per year, payable at the new member's first monthly meeting.