Gales Creek cemetery building gets a facelift

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Take a look at some of the most recent additions, renovations and upgrades to historic Gales Creek Cemetery.

The newly renovated cemetery shed in June 2021. Photo: Chas Hundley

Sandi Evans is theoretically retired, but her position as president of the Gales Creek Cemetery Association has held her since being elected to that position in May 2020.

Evans succeeded former president JoAnne Schmidlin, who had held the position since 1982.

“I have been here almost every day,” Evans said in a recent conversation with the Gales Creek Journal.

This shows. A number of projects have been completed or are underway. Among them, trees were cut down to increase parking space, new benches installed – some are the result of an Eagle Scout project – and a new mapping system and list of graves were established, all housed in a recently renovated outbuilding which visitors can now enter to locate the graves of their loved ones.

A large lilac that had blocked off a disused part of the cemetery’s only building that houses supplies and flowerpots was cut and a door, locked for three decades, was opened.

Inside the dimly lit room, Evans said, it was a surprise.

“We cleaned it up, and voila, a concrete floor! ” she said.

The space has been put to good use. A window was installed to bring in more light and a table was built by Evans’ husband – and board member – Jim Evans. The weathered roof has been repaired and a skylight has been added to the rear of the building to shed light on the flower pots stored inside.

In the area with the concrete slab, visitors can now enter and browse the new map and lists of all the cemetery plots, a system built by Sandi Evans. A new bulletin board hangs on the wall.

The map and lists of newly installed plots as of June 2021. Photo: Chas Hundley

More is planned for the building. In the works is a new coat of the same red paint covering the wooden structure, and a sliding door in the style of a barn door is planned.

All of the work – much of it done by volunteers like Evans – comes at some cost, including regular grounds maintenance. The funds come from sales of plots – the oldest plot dates from 1874 – and donations. Evans said the annual costs are around $ 6,000.

Donations can be made by sending a check to Gales Creek Cemetery Association, 10735 NW Thornburg Road, Gales Creek OR 97117.

In December 2020, a large oak tree fell on the graveyard grounds and Evans found herself learning new skills.

“You took over as president, but you didn’t know you were going to be a lumberjack,” she joked.

Gales Creek Cemetery is located at 7675 NW Soda Springs Road in Gales Creek.

Editor’s Note: The author of this story is related to several board members of the Gales Creek Cemetery Association, including Sandi Evans.


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