ETX resident highlights apparent neglect at historic cemetery

ETX resident highlights apparent neglect at historic cemetery

MARSHALL, Texas (KSLA) - Under the blistering East Texas summer sun, Rhonda Davis spends time with her father, Lawrence Reeves, at the historic Wiley College Cemetery.

He’s been there since September 13, 1973.

Over Father's Day weekend, Davis and her family cleaned up her father's plot, Lawrence Reeves, as well as much of the grounds.
Over Father's Day weekend, Davis and her family cleaned up her father's plot, Lawrence Reeves, as well as much of the grounds.

“My dad passed away from a tragic car accident,” said Davis. “He took care of his family.”

The unkempt and disheveled conditions at the historic Wiley College Cemetery have veiled many of the aged plots from plain sight.
The unkempt and disheveled conditions at the historic Wiley College Cemetery have veiled many of the aged plots from plain sight.

Davis sniffles as she adjusts the foliage around her father’s headstone. Her emotions haven’t aged a bit since her father’s passing nearly 50 years ago, unlike some of the crumbling headstones around her.

“I miss him, I miss him,” she said.

But, Davis’ emotions have shifted from sadness to frustration. The reason can be found all around her.

“People don’t really know where this cemetery is or that it even exists,” Davis said. “I feel disrespected when I come out here.”

A sea of tall and unkempt grass has inundated the area — leaving the historic and solemn grounds looking disheveled.

The top of a headstone peeks through the tall grass at the historic Wiley College Cemetery.
The top of a headstone peeks through the tall grass at the historic Wiley College Cemetery.

“It’s like nobody cares and I feel lost when I come out here,” she stated. “The upkeep’s been neglected and no one has taken the initiative to actually do anything about it.”

So, this past Fathers Day, Rhonda and her family attempted to bring some respect and dignity back to the cemetery. But, their efforts only went so far due to the sheer size of the grounds.

“I just want something to happen,” she said.

KSLA reached out to Wiley College to find out who is responsible for maintaining the historic property. We asked for an interview, but received the following statement:

“The Wiley College Cemetery is not a perpetual cemetery. Families and loved ones are responsible for the upkeep of the plots, and the college is responsible for the upkeep of the grounds. To ensure the grounds are well cared for, we have set up and will follow a maintenance schedule to keep the grass cut and the premises clean.”

However, since we first reached out for comment on this situation last week, Rhonda says the college still has not addressed the derelict cemetery.

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