A stroll through Kenai’s cemetery this July 4th holiday weekend revealed a greatly different look than appeared during my first visit in the early 1970s.
I was informed that the Kenai Lions have once again provided funding, plus beautiful wooden benches for a lovely gazebo to be used by residents suffering from the loss of a loved one. A place to sit and meditate.
The gazebo idea was envisioned by local resident Frank Getty, as he and his son worked to clean up the cemetery after their own personal loss just a few years ago.
With Tim Wisniewski’s design help, Frank began fundraising, and the Kenai Lions provided the final funds necessary to see this project to completion.
Peninsula Memorial Chapel and Tim Wisniewski provided a stone marker at the entrance to commemorate the gift to the community. Kenai Lions President Ryan Mills and members Ron Malston, Jeannine Morse, Jon Preston, Clyde Johnson Jr., Phyllis Swarner and Jan Stiers were in attendance for the dedication, I am told.
Through further inquiry, I found out the cemetery’s appearance has improved drastically since the first cemetery cleanup was coordinated by the Kenai Lions Club in the late 1970s. The land was originally federal land belonging to the Bureau of Land Management. They attempted to convey ownership to the state of Alaska in 1959, when statehood was attained.
Legal paperwork kept it from being final, and during the Native Land Claim disputes, the BLM could take no action.
In June 1982, ownership of Tract B, as it is registered, was officially conveyed to the city of Kenai.
Under a contract between the city and Tim Wisniewski, funeral director, the cemetery was maintained and kept attractive. The summer of 1982 saw improvement projects, such as replacement of missing markers and crosses, as well as clearing of brush from overgrown gravesites, all under Tim’s supervision.
Over the last four years, recent improvements to the cemetery have been through hours of volunteer work from Frank Getty.
A big community thank-you to the Kenai Lions Club for their gifts.
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