Tyson Neff, 4 and Treyson Neff, 4, play at the Eastwood Cemetery in Medford Thursday. Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch - Jamie Lusch

Restoration never rests

Step by step, the Eastwood Cemetery is returning to its pioneer glory, but sometimes Bev Power gets impatient.

"We really are progressing, and the change from 10 years ago is really amazing," said Power, who maintains cemetery records for the Medford Parks and Recreation Department. "But it's still so slow."

Power oversees preparations for Eastwood's annual Memorial Day open house.

"Our key is to help educate and get people interested," she said, "and the stories of the people buried here are just fascinating."

Power said she is starting to hear from companies that are interested in helping restore the nearly 120-year-old cemetery.

"I just had some folks from Wal-Mart out here," she said, "and Macy's, Old Navy and Starbucks representatives have also been talking to us.

"These companies pay employees to volunteer their labor," she said. "That is really so cool that we can get that kind of help."

This year, Harry and David donated $3,000 to replace broken glass in the bronze mausoleum doors. Harry and David Holmes, who founded the company, are interred inside.

Leigh Johnson, vice president of government relations for Harry and David, came to a mid-May luncheon held at Eastwood to meet with the Medford Cemetery Commission.

"It's funny and ironic that I'm back here today," said Johnson. "In 1971, I was serving my first term in the Oregon Legislature, and one of the first bills I introduced was on behalf of the city of Medford to take over this cemetery. It passed unanimously."

Johnson said he's seen a lot of improvement at the cemetery over the past 37 years.

"If you think there are still things to be done," said Johnson, "you should have seen how bad it looked in the early 1970s."

Metal artist Cheryl Garcia created a pattern of oak leaves to protect the glass in the doors.

"The oak leaf in cemeteries symbolizes eternal life, life everlasting," she said. "There are all these white oaks growing here in Eastwood and I wanted to bring that motif into the doors, just like I did last year on the gate at the old north entrance."

Garcia got help from Rocky King, Ashland's sexton of cemeteries, whose grandfather made the original doors for Eastwood's mausoleum.

"He was an iron molder," said King of his grandfather. "He laid the doors out on the ground in sand to form them."

Power has waited a long time to see the glass replaced.

"Until now, we just had plywood where the windows used to be, probably since the late 70s," she said.

Medford's arborist, Bill Harrington, has been overseeing restoration of the trees and other plants at the cemetery since he was hired three years ago.

"We're restoring the cemetery to a classic Victorian look," he said. "Some people complain that we don't water the grass, but this is the way this cemetery would have looked when it was brand new."

A pergola built last year in front of the mausoleum is now surrounded by boulders, benches and native plants. The Medford Garden Club has adopted the area and members are using their own money to complete and maintain it.

This year, Medford City Councilman Ben Truwe will be leading free tours to some of the more notable — and sometimes not so well known — graves.

Truwe does his own research, often wears period costumes, and has developed some interesting stories to highlight the lives of the departed.

Jeraldyn Jerome, chair of the cemetery commission, will be at the mausoleum to answer questions. Jerome knew many of the families who laid their relatives to rest in the mausoleum.

The city's database will also be available to help people locate graves. The database includes brief genealogical information, and wherever possible, a photograph of the headstone.

Bill Miller is a freelance writer living in Shady Cove. Reach him at

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