Some time ago a burial service held in inclement weather at Van Buren’s historic Fairview Cemetery caused the proceedings to get a little muddy and messy.
That shouldn’t be the case going forward thanks to a generous donation by a local family.
On Dec. 12 some of the members of the Joe Lloyd family gathered at Fairview for the unveiling of the Bourland-Lloyd Family Pavilion on the east side of the cemetery.
“We’ve got 28 relatives buried here,” said Joe Lloyd, Jr. “My family and I have plots here, too. I’ll be the sixth generation to be buried here.”
Lloyd was joined at the event by his wife, Trecia, their daughter Jennifer Hardcastle and son Joe Lloyd III. The day was made even more special by the fact it was the 54th wedding anniversary of Joe and Trecia.
“There are a lot of people who still have lots here,” Joe Lloyd, Jr., said. “This pavilion honors my relatives who are buried here.”
The pavilion will serve as a commital site for graveside services. It is surrounded by a concrete pad that will allow room for a hearse to pull in, back up to the pavilion to deliver a casket and then easily turn back onto the cemetery’s narrow road without having to drive on grass.
“There aren’t a lot of burials here, but one of the most recent ones happened in bad weather and got a little messy right around here, so this will keep that from happening again. This will be nice,” said Mayor Bob Freeman.
Randy Smith, the director of Edwards Van-Alma Funeral Home and a noted historian where Fairview Cemetery is concerned, said, “I’ve been involved with Fairview since 2004. I got it placed on the national register and that’s how I got to know Joe. I’d known who he was for years. My only connection with all of this is that Joe and I are friends and he helped me out with a lot of history when I was working on getting the cemetery on the national register.”
He continued, “This is ideal. The cemetery’s needed this for a long time. Lots of cemetery’s have common commital sites these days and I’d always hoped Fairview would have one some day. Then one day Joe calls me and tells me what he wants to do.”
Freeman agreed with the cemetery’s need for this type of structure.
“Fairview Cemetery is just a historic place in the city of Van Buren and this is something that’s been lacking,” he said. “When Joe first called me and said his family wanted to make this donation my first thought was to call Randy. We’re so blessed to have someone here like Randy. So I coordinated Joe talking to Randy and they already knew each other. It just happened from there.”
Original thoughts were that the northern part of the cemetery might be the best fit for the pavilion. For it to go there, though, the city had to bring state authorities in on the process for survey purposes.
Throughout the course of the conversation attention shifted to the location where the pavilion now sits.
“We talked about putting this on the northern part, but had to get the state of Arkansas to take a look,” said Freeman. “As they surveyed the spot, and Randy and Joe talked about it, they settled on this site and it ends up being a perfect location.”
The color and style also lend an historic touch to the area.
“It fits so well with Fairview and the historical nature of this place,” said Freeman.
As the two got ready to leave, Freeman, who leaves office at the end of the month, turned to Joe Lloyd, Jr., and said, “We talked about this several years ago and it’s taken a while to get here, but I’m glad we’re standing here in the middle of December before I leave to see it finished.”
To which Lloyd, Jr., replied, “I was glad to get it done before you left.”