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African American Cemeteries Forum

Washington Park Cemetery ~ history/plan

Blessings,

My name is Kevin R. Bailey and I am the current owner of Washington Park Cemetery (Berkeley, MO).

In 2006 I relocated from Florida to St. Louis, MO (which is actually my hometown). Once I arrived back into the city I began to ponder what this new life was going to bring.
I left St. Louis in August of 1994 for school (Fisk University) and returned in August of 2006. I was not in the city for two weeks and I decided to go the cemetery (Washington Park Cemetery) to visit the grave of my father. My father’s remains have been interred there since August of 1978. As a child, adolescent, and young adult growing up any time that there was a need to remember or at least honor my father my mother took my sister and I out to visit his grave (which eerily had my name on it). The entire event of visiting his grave was taxing emotionally; from us getting dressed to the drive all the way to Berkeley. Initially I felt as though we (my sister, mother, and I) were being punished by his death but I now realize that everything that happens to us happens for a reason and that even when we seemingly loose we actually win. I now understand that the good and the bad that occurs in life is what make’s us who we are. I know that it is a different way of thinking about life and its challenges but I really believe that it all (the good as well as the bad) works together for our good.
My father is not our only relative interred at the property; my maternal grandmother Olevia Cobb, maternal great grandmother Odessa Cobb, paternal grandmother Theodossia Bailey, paternal uncle Roy Bailey, and of course my direct life-line my father Mr. Kevin Garrett Bailey.

In 2006 I wanted to connect with my essence and find some direction in life, so I turned to the grounds of Washington Park Cemetery. What I found there was astounding, the grounds were absolutely deplorable and I had an enormous amount of questions. I consider myself to be a researcher so I did what I knew; I began to do research for answers to my many questions. What I found was an Angel in the disguise of Dr. Kristin E. S. Zapalac. I contacted her for answers, what she provided was immeasurable. I got the history of the site to include information on the owner at that particular time. I then researched and located him (Ronald Kuper) we spoke over the telephone a couple of times but soon scheduled a meeting. Once we met the bond was made. Mr. Kuper gave me power of attorney over the cemetery and within a few months he transitioned. The attorneys for his estate contacted me and asked me to hold-off handling any business concerning the property, which I did. I was later contacted by them asking me was I interested in owning the property. I felt (and still feel the same way) passionate enough about overhauling the property that I believe that it was the right decision to gain ownership over it.

On July 31, 2009 I took ownership of the property. Since then I have been slammed by fines and citations from the City of Berkeley. The City of Berkeley did cut the property at the end of the growing season last year and assessed over $20,000 in fines. I feel as though that should have been a partial favor that they could have done seeing that their inspectors had allowed over 25 of the 47 acres to evolve into a forest situation. What is more problematic is that they (City of Berkeley) have charged all of those monies and never even tapped the surface of the forest situation.

I’m writing to inform the families, friends, loved ones, and the community members of WPC that the cemetery needs your HELP! I have now been ordered to demolish the two story structure that is on the property. The building was condemned prior to my ownership but NOW the laws are being enforced. I simply do not understand why they would wait for a single, caring family member to take ownership and harass him when the prior owner whom had the money to correct all of the problems was left a lone. When will the City of Berkeley accept the role that they had in allowing the growth of this suburban jungle? The City of Berkeley knows that the cemetery does not have an endowment; meaning it is now the responsibility of the families that have loved ones there to keep up with the upkeep of the cemetery. To add insult to injury, I have no way of contacting the families of those interred at WPC the prior owner gifted all of the burial cards and plot cards to the Genealogical Society who in-turn gifted them to the History Museum.

I’ve established a non-profit in the state of Missouri, More Amazing, Inc. Our purpose is to provide perpetual care to Washington Park Cemetery. It is truly time-out for placing blame; all we need now are results. I need help in so many ways, beginning with a demolition company or contractor.

We have planned
a national day of service (clean-up) for the Washington Park Cemetery for Saturday, August 27th 2011 (8:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.).
It is our goal to have at least 500 (plus) volunteers on-site.
WILL YOU AND YOUR FAMILY ASSIST US WITH MAKING THAT HAPPEN?

Amazing Grace Enterprises
(314) 355-6253

For further information, questions, concerns, and/or ideas please contact me via 314-355-6253 or Amge2009@aol.com


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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