Gazebo dedication at Essie J Handy Cemetery ceremony to be held on Thursday

Published 4:53 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2024

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

Handy, a well-known LaFayette native, passed away in January of 2024. At the time of his passing, 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 as a teacher. Now, two memorial scholarships were awarded to seniors at Westbury High School this year. 

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Others, though, back home in LaFayette, gave to the EJH Cemetery Association to continue the community’s beautification efforts. 

EJH Cemetery, named after its founder, was created by Handy’s mother. After her death, the cemetery was kept up by his sister. However, once she passed away, ownership of the cemetery was transferred to the city for maintenance. 

Several years ago, LaFayette community member Charlotte Blasingame started a group to beautify the cemetery which had become overgrown. 

Catherine and her husband lived in Baltimore near their grandchildren until his passing. Afterward, Catherine returned Handy 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 couple years ago, we got the cemetery listed in the Alabama Historic Registry for cemeteries.”

Though she is not from the area, since arriving, Catherine said the community — particularly the EJH Cemetery Association — has made her feel welcome and brought her into the fold.

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

Together, Catherine and the beautification committee have found funding for a commemorative gazebo to honor Handy’s memory. 

The Brick Walkway of Remembrance is a continuation of the project. Donors personalized a message on an engraved brick that will encircle the gazebo. The first phase of the brick walkway focused on donors of the EJH Cemetery Association, while the second phase will include all families who donated to the gazebo project.

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

Street, Sanitation and Cemetery Superintendent George Green and his staff worked to put up the gazebo and the brick walkway. Catherine thanked him and the city of LaFayette for their efforts in the project. 

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

The engraved bricks have come from Brick Makers USA in Florida.