News Clippings 1960's to 2000's


Vandals ruined a 15-foot Centennial Monument honoring the Oakwood trustees of 1859. They used hammers and chisels. The monument is located in the new southwest section and was erected in 1959. ps


The Oakwood Avenue stone archway entrance to Oakwood Cemetery permanently closed yesterday, due to the construction of Route 81 which borders the cemetery on the west side. A new gate will be opened on East Colvin Street and a new office building will be erected there. The old office will be used for another as yet undecided purpose. hj [A new office was not built by the Colvin Street entrance.]


Two high school students were arraigned yesterday for firing guns in Oakwood. They reportedly shot at a cemetery staff member seven times while squirrel hunting deep in the cemetery.


Three boys between the ages of 13 and 15 overturned about 25 monuments, broke flower pots and did between $700 and $800 damage in the old section of Oakwood.


Litter,vandals, and age take toll on cemetery. The older western section of Oakwood has fallen in a sad state of disrepair as many mausoleums have been broken into and littered with beer cans, graffiti, and trash. Windows have been broken and often small saplings can be found growing out of mausoleums and other monuments. The grounds have not been well maintained with infrequent mowing and leaf collection from the fall. The Cemetery Division of the NY Department of State has notified Oakwood officials about its displeasure with the western sections. ps [Current grounds keeping has improved compared to the description in this article.]


During a Halloween prank, vandals broke into a family vault at Oakwood Cemetery and tampered with a body.


Construction of the first wing of a 1,000 crypt mausoleum has begun in Oakwood, not far from the Comstock Ave. entrance. There will be 342 crypts and 192 niches for cremation interments in the first wing. Oakwood Cemetery, Inc. also runs Morningside Mausoleum which was built in 1910 and is located across Comstock Ave. This facility only has four of 350 spaces remaining. ps


Oakwood Cemetery and Morningside Cemetery have formally consolidated. Oakwood has operated Morningside since 1962. Morningside Cemetery formed in 1899. sns


Oakwood-Morningside Cemetery and White Chapel Memory Gardens, in DeWitt, merged as a not-for-profit corporation called Oakwood Cemeteries, Inc. In 1976, Oakwood and Morningside had previously merged. Those two cemeteries form a contiguous tract of 200 acres bordering Syracuse University and Route 81. The DeWitt cemetery has 30 acres. eb


An 18-year old art student at SU is accused of rummaging through a mausoleum at Oakwood, taking the skull of former mayor John J. Crouse, and boiling it in water to clean it for a sculpting class. He was found out when his roommate noticed a foul smell in the dorm room and discovered the boiling skull. After his arrest, police searched nearby Oakwood and found a second skull wrapped in a paper sack and about a dozen crypts in four mausoleums which had been tampered with. Damage to the crypts likely occurred over several years. The student denied breaking into the mausoleum and reported it had already been disturbed when he found the skull. hj

5- 1-1991

For two years a licensed mortician, who is not affiliated with Oakwood, has lived in the caretaker's house [the old office] between the chapel and Route 81. nt [He moved out in 2001 and since then the building has been empty.]


Oakwood received a $145,000 state grant for renovation of the chapel, a visable symbol of the cemetery's significance and its deterioration. Age and vandals have strafed and gutted the stone chapel. The state grant must be matched dollar for dollar by local contributions. When completed it will become a visitors' center offering tours, exhibits, lectures, and small concerts. nt [The Cemetery Board of Directors later refused to accept the grant based on concerns about the time required to administer the grant, use of funds for the chapel rather than for other cemetery needs, future use and maintenance of the chapel and several other issues - From a letter dated 1-15-92 from the Historic Oakwood Cemetery Preservation Association.]


The nonprofit corporation that operates the largest number of grave sites in Central New York mishandled the finances of historic Oakwood Cemetery for two decades, according to state audits and court records. Officials broke state law by raiding a fund set up for long-term care. They diverted funds from an escrow account for people who bought plots in advance and failed to put other money into state funds for vandalism clean up and fiscal oversight. Burial fees were raised two years ago without state approval. Payroll taxes were not paid from 1987-89, prompting the IRS to threaten closing Oakwood. Oakwood Cemeteries Inc. operates Oakwood, Morningside, and Onondaga Valley Cemeteries in Syracuse, White Chapel Memory Gardens in DeWitt, and Greenlawn Memorial Park in Warners. ps [Currently Oakwood Cemeteries Inc. owns Oakwood (which included Morningside) and White Chapel and it manages Onondaga Valley.]


Individuals with parking permits will continue to be able to park in Oakwood during sporting events, but tailgating will no longer be permitted. SU fans can rent game day parking spaces for $200 a year. hj


A new roof was installed on the chapel in Oakwood, thanks to the efforts of the Historic Oakwood Cemetery Preservation Association (HOCPA). Funds were raised from individual donations, sales of maps and t-shirts during summer tours, a "Buy a Shingle" program, and from a one-day non-credit course offered at SU, to name a few. nt


Over the past two years, Chris Piering, a Civil War buff, has organized and overseen the replacement of the 231 gravestones in the Civil War soldiers and sailors plot. The old stones, due to age and decay, had been laid down on the ground to avoid them tipping over and causing injury. Piering and others conducted painstaking research to prove the identities of the interred to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is responsible for marking any unmarked veteran grave. Each stone weighed 230 pounds and had to be set 18 inches in the ground. Ten volunteers working weekends placed the stones. In 1951, a life-size statue of Col. August Root, 15th NY Cavalry, one of the first Civil War soldiers buried at Oakwood, was stolen. The eight-foot granite base has stood empty since that time. The VA will not pay for the statue, so the Civil War Reinactors, a non-profit group, must restore it on their own. ha

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