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The dedication of the pavilion at the Essie J. Handy Cemetery will take place on Thursday

Published on Tuesday, July 9, 2024, 16:53

The community is invited to gather at the Essie J. Handy Cemetery on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. CT to attend the dedication of the gazebo and Brick Walkway of Remembrance. The ceremony will be dedicated to the late Albert Einstein Handy and is sponsored by his wife, Catherine Handy, and the EJH Cemetery Association.

Handy, a well-known LaFayette native, died in January 2024. At the time of his death, Catherine said, friends and family wanted to know what they could do to honor him.

Some donated to the Westbury Schools Retiree Association in honor of his 27 years of service as a teacher. This year, two memorial scholarships were awarded to Westbury High School graduating seniors.

Others donated to the EJH Cemetery Association at home in LaFayette to continue the community’s beautification efforts.

EJH Cemetery, named after its founder, was established by Handy’s mother. After her death, the cemetery was maintained by his sister. After her death, however, the cemetery became the property of the city, which maintained it.

Several years ago, LaFayette Parish member Charlotte Blasingame formed a group to beautify the overgrown cemetery.

Catherine and her husband lived in Baltimore near their grandchildren until his death, after which Catherine brought Handy back to his hometown of LaFayette.

“When my husband died, he always wanted to come back here and be buried in the cemetery,” Catherine said. “A few years ago, we had the cemetery listed on the Alabama Historic Registry of Cemeteries.”

Although she is not from the area, Catherine said that since her arrival, the community – and in particular the EJH Cemetery Association – has made her feel welcome and embraced her into the community.

“I feel just as at home here,” she said of the LaFayette community’s welcome. “It’s like I’ve been here my whole life.”

Together, Catherine and the Beautification Committee have found funds for a memorial gazebo to honor Handy’s memory.

The Brick Walk of Remembrance is a continuation of the project. Donors have left a personal message on an engraved brick that surrounds the gazebo. The first phase of the Brick Walk was targeted at donors of the EJH Cemetery Association, while the second phase includes all families who donated to the gazebo project.

“Some people have made their bricks in memory of my husband. Some of them are just locals who made them in memory of their parents who are buried there,” Catherine said. “Most of them already have someone at Handy Cemetery.

George Green, director of the Streets, Sanitation and Cemetery Department, and his staff worked to construct the gazebo and brick walkway. Catherine thanked him and the City of LaFayette for their efforts in this project.

Members of the EJH Cemetery Historical Society will perform the ribbon cutting and the Rev. Kelsey Barnes, pastor of Powell Chapel United Methodist Church, will bless the ceremony on Thursday.

The engraved bricks come from Brick Makers USA in Florida.