Posted 7:27 AM 5/11/2012 : Tucson women bringing westside cemetery back to life
TUCSON- Two Tucson women are on a mission to bring a west side pauper's cemetery back to life.
Small mementos mark the gravesites at Pima County's Indigent Cemetery, located at the back of Evergreen Cemetery off Oracle Road. An American flag, a Camaro license plate template, and vases filled with plastic flowers.
But those mementos are not what caught the eyes of Marilyn Reed and Vickie Berg when they attended a memorial service at the cemetery last November.
"There was a lot of damage done to the cemetery and there was a lot of garbage rolling around," Reed says.
It was then that the duo, who met while both lived in Minnesota, decided to start cleaning the cemetery up.
"I come out once a month to pick up trash and upright the flowers," Berg says.
The women walk around with plastic bags, throwing away trash and putting mementos back in place. The task is sometimes a little dirty and often daunting. "Apparently it's a lot bigger than we had initially thought it was," Berg says.
But the efforts are necessary in order to accomplish their mission. "We just want to create a place of respect, dignity, quiet and peace," Berg says.
In recent months their efforts caught the attention of a local gardener and artist, who are now helping the women beautify the land.
Jessie Byrd of Desert Green Design is helping Reed and Berg plant more flowers and trees.
Artist Ray Rizzo is working with the women to create a metal sculpture to place at the cemetery.
"I think it will be more enjoyable and pleasing to the eye," Jack May says. May comes to the cemetery every so often to visit his mother-in-law's gravesite.
"You walk around here and you see a part of peoples' lives," Reed says.
Lives that are now remembered, in a more honorable way, thanks to Reed and Berg.
"Ya know we're just two women in the community," Reed says.
Two women who may be small in number but not spirit.
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