- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 23, 2015

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) - It’s hard for visitors to the Greenlawn Memorial Park Cemetery office to miss the Masonic Memorial.

What’s less visible from that distance is the crumbling base, holding up the emblem. Several bricks are starting to come loose, and some have been put in a pile nearby.

“If you leave it alone, the emblem’s going to fall,” Margie Ogden, 86, said.

The monument’s been on Ogden’s mind for several years. Now, fundraising for repairs is about to get under way.

Ogden’s husband, Alton Ogden Sr., a Mason, is buried in the Masonic Garden along with his parents, sister and nephew.

Ogden plans to be buried there, too, one day. However, she is concerned about the state of the monument.

“The emblem is OK. It just needs cleaning up,” Ogden said. “But the foundation is in terrible shape.”

Page Brown, Greenlawn’s coowner, has noticed.

“We do have some concerns, safety concerns and appearance,” Brown said.

Brown said if someone climbed or sat on the monument, they were worried about the foundation holding up.

Ogden contacted the owners of Greenlawn to ask about getting it repaired.

“They said they weren’t responsible for it because the Masons were responsible for it,” Ogden said.

Brown’s grandparents did not take possession of the cemetery until 1968, 15 years after the memorial went up. She said she knows her grandparents didn’t purchase it.

“I thought the local masons had just gotten commissioned to put it up,” Brown said.

Jack Cupit, secretary for Natchez’s Masonic Lodges, Harmony Number 1 and Andrew Jackson Number 2, doesn’t think it belongs to the Masons, either.

“I do know that we, the Masons of Natchez, Miss., the two lodges, do not own it,” Cupit said.

Ogden contacted Cupit a while after she talked to the cemetery owners. Cupit, like Ogden, plans to be buried in the Masonic Garden, although the garden is open to nonMasons as well.

Cupit agreed it needed to be repaired.

“I’m proud of my cemetery and I’m proud of being a Mason,” Cupit said. “And I don’t want it looking bad.”

After discussing the matter, Cupit contacted David Clayborn, a brick mason, to see how much it would cost to repair. Clayborn told him that it would cost between $1,200 and $1,500.

In the past, the memorial has been a topic of general conversation at the Masonic meetings. Now that they have a fundraising goal, Cupit said things are going to get under way.

“I feel great,” Ogden said. “My prayers have been answered.”

Cupit hopes they will be able to raise enough money to repair the monument by the end of the summer.

“You can rest assured that if I live, it will be fixed this summer,” Cupit said.

___

Information from: The Natchez Democrat, https://www.natchezdemocrat.com/

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