Volunteers spend day at historic cemetery, cleaning the grounds and locating missing graves

Missouri

BERKELEY, Mo. – Dozens of Spire employees volunteered at Washington Park Cemetery to help beautify the final resting place for hundreds of notable Black St. Louisans.

The historic cemetery was established in the 1920s as a burial ground for African Americans.

A Spire engineering team spent the day gathering valuable information to help families locate loved ones with high-accuracy GPS equipment. Volunteers also utilized their time to help clean the cemetery grounds.

“We are helping out the St. Louis Preservation Crew capture and improve data for gravesites and headstones,” said Matthew Voelker.

High-profile civil rights leaders, doctors, lawyers, and servicemen are among those buried here.

“Historically, I know it’s a significant cemetery in St. Louis. There are veterans here from multiple wars and it’s significant to the African American community,” Voelker said. “We are looking to help improve it any way we can.”

The Washington Park Cemetery volunteer project is part of Spire’s annual Day for Good Campaign, which gives employees eight hours of paid leave to support an organization or cause of their choice.

Lorraine Hamm says her mother, Barbara Johnson, was buried at the historic cemetery 30 years ago. Over the years, she had problems finding her grave, so she’s grateful for Spire’s help.

“I saw that they had people coming out here to clean up and I thought it would be a good time to talk to someone about finding my mom,” she said. “She has been here for 36 years and I lost the marker and I would like to find where she is exactly.”

Spire’s volunteers say there are hopes that the Washington Park Cemetery will eventually become a landmark.

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