Despite threatening skies and a brisk river breeze, a crowd gathered recently at Riverview Cemetery to witness the dedication of a new facility, Baldwinsville's first columbarium. The structure is designed specifically to hold cremation urns.
Emcee Dr. Harold Jenkins facilitated the event whose beginning was heralded by a bagpipe prelude presented by Ralph Loomis. Association President Ted Beck offered words of welcome and appreciation and was followed by Reverend Stuart Hayes who delivered an invocation. Under the direction of Rheta Jenks, a select choir presented a poignant a cappella performance of "Brother James' Air" and "Let There Be Peace on Earth."
Keynote speaker and former association president William Mercer noted the significant role played by a public non-sectarian cemetery. He clearly articulated the responsibilities of the cemetery's board of trustees to assure the appreciation, maintenance and continuation of this essential community resource.
With solemnity and dignity Mercer dedicated the columbarium with the following words: "First, I would like to dedicate this monument to the people of the greater Baldwinsville area and their extended families in the ardent hope that this beautiful columbarium will provide a serene setting, a secure repository and a place of comfort for those of their loved ones who choose cremation as their choice in funeral practice. Second, I would like to further dedicate it to the members of the Board of Trustees of Riverview Cemetery, past and present, who since 1874 have given their time, their talent, their labor and their unheralded dedication to maintaining and enriching this beautiful cemetery as a vital resource for our community."
As Mercer's words were being absorbed, the bagpipe strains of "Amazing Grace" filled the air. A presentation to John Tulloch in memory of his wife Dolores, benediction, and postlude concluded the official ceremony.
Walking tours of the historic cemetery were presented by Mary Hartigan and Bonnie Kisselstein of Baldwinsville's Museum at the Shacksboro Schoolhouse.
The cemetery is located at 70 Tappan St. on the bank of the Seneca River. Its first burial was pioneer John McHarrie in 1807. Information about the cemetery and the new columbarium is available by calling Superintendent Jim Kratzer at 638-1922.