The OHCA was formed in February of 1992 when a group of cemetery enthusiasts from all over Oregon met to discuss the need for a statewide cemetery association.
While scattered genealogical and historical societies were attempting to address the concerns of Oregon's more than 3,000 cemeteries, vandalism was rampant and apathy and neglect were evident in all but one Oregon county. The group saw that Oregon had a need and decided to form the Oregon Historic Cemeteries Association. Since that time, the programs have grown, changed, and improved but staying true to the original intent of the organization.
Original members included Jeanne Gentry Robinson of Boring, Mary Tryon, etc…
With solid information from partner organizations such as the Oregon Historical Society, Association for Gravestone Studies, and Oregon State Parks, the organization has worked to achieve common goals for all historic resources. With cemeteries now receiving a focus, historic preservation plans began to include cemeteries as assets, not as liabilities.
In 2002, Executive Director Jeanne Robinson retired from the position of Executive Director. Her work to maintain cemeteries is held with esteem and we are proud of all her efforts to provide for Oregon’s cemeteries. Joseph Lyons, Secretary of the organization at that time, was asked to become the new Executive Director.
Joe served as Executive Director from then until 2005, when he left to focus on other interests. His generous contributions of time and work are much appreciated. The Board of Directors, members, and volunteers are now publishing the Ledger, updating the website, and increasing awareness of the treasures we possess in our historic cemeteries. If you would like to contribute to our efforts, please consider becoming a member.
Board of Directors
The OHCA is governed by a Board of Directors, with four positions in an Executive Capacity. The Board is open to members from around the state, up to a total of eleven members.
Current members are:
Carol Surrency, Hillsboro - President
Lynne Pagan, Portland - Treasurer
Diane Wagner, Portland - Member-at-Large
Read our By-Laws.
- January 27, 1992: Mary Tryon sent and invitation and proposal to form a statewide cemetery association.
- February – April 1992: Organizational meetings were held, a mission and bylaws were written, and officers were elected.
- April – June 1992: A logo was developed and our first newsletter was sent.
- July 11, 1992:
The first meeting was held in Philomath. We also, by accident, began
what has become the traditional after-lunch cemetery tour when Daniel
Froelich invited participants at that first meeting to visit the Jewish
Cemetery in Albany.
- March – October 1993: We
began, and completed, the search for the grave of Johann Jungnickel. The
story got television news coverage, descendants and the cemetery were
located, and a rededication ceremony took place at Portland’s Mt.
Calvary Cemetery on June 19, 1994.
- March 12, 1994: The OHCA launched the first in our instructional programs with the Vandalism Symposium.
- May 1994: The OHCA moved to our current location in Boring, Oregon.
- May 1994: Governor Barbara Roberts, at the request of the OHCA, proclaims May in Oregon is Cemetery Awareness Month.
- March 11, 1995:
The Board, in an effort to recognize those individuals and
organizations who have successfully restored cemeteries, created the
Annual Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cemetery Preservation. Our
first recipient was Virginia Felton, for her accomplishments at Salem
- April 22, 1995: The “Solutions Symposium” was held at Valley Conference Center in Beaverton.
- April 20, 1996: Returning to Valley Conference Center, we hosted the “Building Blocks Symposium.
- May 12, 1996: We completed our first OHCA Cemetery Project with the successful clean up of Cherryville Cemetery in Clackamas County.
- October 1996: OHCA received notification from the IRS that we had attained our 501 (c)(3) non-profit status.
- April 26, 1997:
The Graveyard Appreciation Through Education (GATE) pilot project took
place in Lafayette, Oregon. Following their training, our group of
volunteers led students from Wascher Elementary School on a tour of
- August 16, 1997: OHCA
participated in the clean up of Gardiner Cemetery in conjunction with
the newly formed Friends of Gardiner Cemetery Association.
- May 1998: At the request of the OHCA, Governor Kitzhaber declares May in Oregon as Cemetery Appreciation Month.
- October 1998:
The OHCA announces our program to provide certificates and plaques for
cemeteries qualifying as an Oregon Pioneer Cemetery based upon meeting
the definition as provided by Oregon statute.
- April 1999: The Visitors’ Guide to Oregon Historic Cemeteries is published.
- August 5-8, 1999: OHCA hosts the first Association For Gravestone Studies National Conference held west of Chicago.
- October 7, 2000: OHCA presents the Victorian Mourning Exhibit and Cemetery Colloquium held at Portland’s beautiful River View Cemetery.
- September 22, 2001:
Built upon the popularity of the cemetery tours held during the AGS
Conference, OHCA hosts an all-day Cemetery Tour Caravan, culminating
with a wonderful dinner held amidst the graves at Lone Fir Cemetery.