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Helpers sought to complete repairs in Salisbury cemetery

SALISBURY — One of the late Fletcher “Buster” Brush’s many civic goals was to bring new vitality and identity to the Salisbury Village Cemetery, a small historic burial site behind the community’s old town hall.
Brush began diligently recording names and other statistics from the eroding old tombstones, some of which have seen two centuries of Vermont winters. Along with putting a collective face on the 382 inhabitants of the cemetery — which included at least one of his own ancestors — Brush hoped to expand its boundaries so that it could accommodate more plots.
Unfortunately, Brush never got to see his project come to fruition. It was still in the works when he died on Nov. 7, 2008.
But a group of dedicated community volunteers is making sure Brush’s efforts will not die. Members of the Salisbury Historical Society — an organization that Brush helped reinvigorate — will spend a large part of this Saturday, July 31, putting some of the finishing touches on a substantial facelift and expansion for the village cemetery. The society is reaching out to volunteers who might want to help straighten and clean up some tombstones.
“This was Buster’s big project,” said Salisbury Historical Society President Barry Whitney. “Maybe people can come out for him, to see if we can finish this up for him.”
Indeed, Brush’s memory has already inspired the society and the local cemetery association to make a lot of progress during the past two years. Perhaps the biggest step forward was a recent agreement with Omya that saw the calcium carbonate mining company agree to give the village cemetery around an acre of adjoining land on which to expand, thereby almost doubling the grounds. That will come as good news to those who have a sentimental or family attachment to the cemetery but who have been unable to reserve a plot there. The graveyard is full and has not welcomed a new resident for at least 35 years, according to records accumulated by Brush.
The society, with financial help from the cemetery association, has paid a contractor to landscape, seed and mulch areas of the grounds that had fallen into disrepair, according to Whitney.
Future plans call for a fence to mark the perimeter of the newly expanded cemetery. For that, the society will have to tap into an investment fund (left by a benefactor) next year.
The village cemetery restoration project is scheduled for 8 a.m. to noon this Saturday. People interested in helping are asked to bring a bucket, stiff brush, shovel and other helpful tools for working on gravestones. The society will have some tools on hand for those who don’t bring any. Lunch will be served to helpers.
Brush’s widow, Jeanette, said the project is a fitting tribute to her late husband.
“He spent a lot of hours over there,” she said. “It is wonderful that people are still interested in it, going forward with what has already been started. It would have meant a lot to him.”
People seeking more information about Saturday’s project should call Whitney at 247-4340.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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