North Tonawanda, NY 14120
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Acacia Park Cemetery was founded in 1928 as a not-for-profit membership association by a group of local citizens lead by Adolph Richard Hansen, who served as board member and president for 60 years. The group recognized the need for a cemetery outside the city of Buffalo in the growing Niagara County area.
The 218-acre site, adjacent to the meandering North Tonawanda Creek, encourages people to walk the grounds, admire the funerary art and commune with nature.
Resthaven Gardens within the cemetery, was founded to facilitate the strong, fraternal Masonic community in the area. Features in the gardens area were designed to honor Masonic families, their values, members and heroes, including America's founding President George Washington, a Mason.
A Corinthian Column, which weighs mre than 40 tons and rises 50-feet high, is topped by a globe representing the universality of Masonry. Today, the gardens area is open to all faiths, as evidenced by our gates at the entrance of the cemetery.
Another garden in the cemetery is dedicated and named in honor of the Odd Fellows. This fraternal organization, which started in England, is known to serve grieving families by anonymously leaving food at their door.
By opening our landscape, art and architecture to the community, Acacia Park Cemetery celebrates the lives of individuals who have shaped our world.
2015 Holiday Vigil
Honoring Fallen Heroes
An article by Julia Burke in the November 2010 Forever Young magazine
Nothing is more painful than losing a loved one prematurely, but for families of soldiers and civil servants, knowing you're not alone — and that he or she will be honored in a special ceremony befitting such a sacrifice — can be an immense comfort. For those who died in the line of duty serving in the Armed Forces, as police officers, firefighters, or EMTs, Acacia Cemetery in North Tonawanda offers a support system to honor the memories of the deceased and to address the unique needs and wishes of their grieving families.
This is just one example of a local business reaching out help make the loss of a family member a little easier, but it is certainly one worth highlighting. Now in its third year at Acacia, the "Fallen Heroes" program is truly a lifesaver for families burying a loved one. The program's honorary ceremonies for the deceased provide a special way for the community to remember and celebrate the life of a local hero.
"There is nothing more moving than seeing a Fallen Heroes service," says Patty Young, Acacia's director of family services. She recalls a funeral in 2009 for a young Marine named Aaron M. Kenefick, who was killed in an ambush in Afghanistan. "He was highly decorated for his age," Young recalls of the 30-year-old gunnery sergeant.
"This year on 9/11 we rehonored him and five soldiers killed with him. His mother invited the five other families who were in her son's command who were killed. She told us she was going to bring them to his grave site, so we decided to give them Departed Heart pins and military honors."
The Veteran's Day after his death, Acacia held a dove release to honor Kenefick's memory. "He has been honored in the area, [but] it's our job at the cemetery to keep his memory alive, too," says Young. "We'll honor him again this Veteran's Day."
In addition to funeral services, the program offers military and civil service families benefits assistance to help them sort through the paperwork and logistical issues that can seem overwhelming during a time of tragedy.
"We walk them through getting hooked up with the VA, and connect them local families for support," explains Young. This counseling, as well as notary service and logistical help with anything from ordering flowers to placing a newspaper notice, is available at no cost.
Prior to her work at Acacia, Young developed her compassion for veterans and their families while working as a nurse. "Seeing a family's grief, it's [clear that it's] not just theirs — it's grief for our whole country," she says.
Her genuine sympathy for the families of fallen heroes is evident and her passion for honoring veterans makes her well-suited to her job guiding clients through grief. She encourages families and individuals who want to learn more about the program and services offered at Acacia to make an appointment with their family service department for more information.
For more on Acacia and the Fallen Heroes program, call 716-692-0511