SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s called the ‘Remember Me Project.’
The local lodge of an international fraternity is once again placing markers on the more than 250 unmarked graves at the county cemetery.
Ernest Marx who died in 1907 is buried here, and so are twins Deborha Lee and Deanna Benting who would now be 70. For decades their graves were unmarked, but now thanks to the local lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows these lives can be counted long into the future.
The county maintains this cemetery on 60th North for people who have nowhere else to go when life ends.
“Everybody deserves to have a lasting marker because every life matters,” Carol Woltjer said.
Carol Woltjer says they’ve placed about 60 markers since the project started 3 years ago and will place another 40 this month. Because of the ‘Remember Me Project’ one local family, through genealogy, found they had a relative who died young and was buried here
“We marked the grave and we marked it baby and just their last name, and they had discovered we had marked their aunts grave and so they contributed to our project because of the new broadcast that you did and they also at their family reunion that year gave that baby a name,” Woltjer said.
Woltjer says she is not sure they will finish the project in her lifetime, the Oddfellows hold fundraisers and are looking for grants to buy the markers. They’ve got about another 150 left to go.
“You feel sad, but you also feel good that for generations to come their family members will be able to find them,” Woltjer said.
The sad fact of life is that not everyone has family or friends to care for them when life ends.
It is the poor, the homeless, the overlooked, and the unwanted who end up here, this project aims to make sure they are not forgotten.
Woltjers says they wish they could do more but they have to purchase the stones and funds are limited. If you would like to help out with the ‘Remember Me Project’ you can contact the local order of the Odd Fellows. Here is a link to their Facebook page.