Fundraising Challenge Begins for Green Hill Cemetery

Each Memorial Day, Alison Robinson purchases 160 single carnations from Blooms in Edgewood and places them, one by one, on the headstones at Green Hill Cemetery on Littleport Road.

“It's nice to know that the people buried here are not being forgotten,” says Robinson, who is the cemetery sexton. She has many relatives buried at Green Hill Cemetery, and the care of all those resting in this quiet corner of the county has been her family’s responsibility for four decades.

“My grandparents, Duane and Irene Weyant, took over caring for the cemetery in September of 1978,” says Robinson. “My mother, Lori Heims, had it from 2014 until 2016.” When her mother died in 2016, Robinson took charge. She regularly makes the drive from her home in Hiawatha back to the Edgewood area, where she was raised, to check on the property and facilitate the purchase of burial plots.

September marked the 40th year of Robinson’s family caring for the Green Hill Cemetery, and she is celebrating by leading a fundraising campaign to build the cemetery’s endowment fund with the Clayton County Foundation for the Future (CCFF), an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. The fund supports maintenance expenses, such as the seasonal cost of mowing, and Robinson hopes it will eventually cover the entirety of those costs with dollars to spare for other projects such as new signage, land surveying, and repairs to the fence and gates. 

“Right now, the fund holds about $15,000 and the goal with this fundraising campaign is to reach a fund balance of $30,000 so that the annual payout for Green Hill would be $1,500. The annual payout would then fully cover the cost of mowing each year,” says Emily Sadewasser, CCFF coordinator. “Gifts will be matched dollar for dollar until the goal of $30,000 is met.”

Donations to Green Hill Cemetery provide funds for the annual Memorial Day placement of carnations and also covered the cost of recent repairs to nine of the cemetery’s 160 headstones. The oldest legible headstone in the cemetery bears a death date of 1887, highlighting the fragile nature of the aging stones. Many are collapsing or sinking into the earth, so over time more repairs will be required.

“If this endowment fund had not been created, we would have run out of money and I don’t know what would have happened,” says Robinson.

Robinson is one of many people who have a place in their hearts for the cemetery. “I have fond memories of visiting the Greenhill Cemetery with my grandparents and learning about our family heritage,” said Edward Widtmann, a supporter of the Green Hill Cemetery fund. “We have numerous family members in this cemetery that fought in wars that date back to the Civil war. The Green Hill Cemetery has a small sample of some great Americans who fought for our country and the freedoms we enjoy today. It is important to me that we continue to maintain the Green Hill Cemetery, so future family generations can pay respect to the people that preceded us and for the sacrifices they made for our country and family.”

Donations to the Green Hill Cemetery endowment fund will be matched dollar for dollar, so donors can maximize the impact of their gifts by making checks payable to Green Hill Cemetery Endowment and mailing to the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque at 700 Locust Street, Suite 195, Dubuque, IA 52001. Click here to give now. 

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Founded in 2002, the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque strengthens communities and inspires giving. We are dedicated to improving the quality of life throughout Northeast Iowa by serving donors, making grants to local nonprofit organizations, and providing community leadership through convening and collaboration. Guided by the values of integrity, equity and inclusion, collaboration, excellence and innovation, we seek to ensure a vibrant and inclusive Greater Dubuque region with resources and opportunity for all.