DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Memorial Day is the only chance for some to visit their loved ones who are buried at one Dayton cemetery.
No one’s been laid to rest at the city-owned Westmont Cemetery since 2002. Since opening in 1944, it was the place for indigent burials, but now those without enough money are cremated and put at Woodland Cemetery.
For 29 years, James Witwer has been coming each Memorial Day to visit his mother Dorothy. His wife Brenda goes with him.
“He made me promise if something happens to him I’ll continue coming out,” Brenda says.
A few years ago they added a headstone. It’s one of only a handful at Westmont.
The other 2,650 graves can be found with a map and stones that mark each row.
“They measure the distance so they know where each grave is,” says Ben Callihan.
Callihan was there to visit his uncle, Chris Wheeler, who died in 1994.
“This is exactly what he likes,” Callihan says of the secluded cemetery. “He’s an outdoorsman.”
The cemetery is down a long lane and surrounded by trees. Normally a locked gate prevents anyone from driving into the cemetery.
Because of a nearby police shooting range, not enough workers to regularly maintain it, and fears over trespassing, Westmont only opens on Memorial Day. A handful of families visit each year. Twenty showed up in 2013.
“When you have someone you loved or want to remember, this is the perfect day to be here,” says Romona Carver with Dayton’s Central Services.