Harrisonville resident spends lifetime caring for cemetery

bbashioum@demo-mo.comMay 30, 2014 

Harold Unnewehr hopes Harrisonville’s Pleasant Ridge Cemetery can be a resting place of pleasant memories.

“I hope Pleasant Ridge brings pleasant memories from all the old folks – all my friends, all my neighbors, and especially all of my family who have gone on and are buried here,” Unnewehr said.

Unnewehr, 80, has devoted many hours to overseeing the care of the 143-year-old cemetery, which includes the graves of Civil War soldiers, located adjacent to The Church of Pleasant Ridge, 22500 E 299th St.

For 66 years, since he was 14 years old, Unnewehr, a Harrisonville resident, has spent many hours volunteering to help maintain the upkeep and preservation of the cemetery located on a ridge in rural area south of town.

This spring, Unnewehr stepped away from his service as president of the Pleasant Ridge Cemetery Association, a position he has held for the last 34 years.

Unnewehr credits the work of others who have helped him throughout the journey – from building fences around the cemetery, putting up signage and the gates, placing flags on the graves on Memorial Day, to keeping the lawn manicured.

Unnewehr started donating his time alongside his father, Henry Unnewehr, who also served as a board member, as a teen by clearing brush along one of the edges of the cemetery.

“I felt like it was calling for me to help my dad and grandparents,” he said.

Unnewehr said the men and women before him, including C.D. Moore, were also very influential to the upkeep of the land, and is grateful for the individuals who are stepping up so he can step back.

Moore also played an influential role in encouraging Unnewehr to take over the leadership of the cemetery before he passed away.

Now, more than three decades later, Unnewehr said he’s simply run out of gas.

“I just can’t do it anymore,” he said.

Clint Miller, 56, Harrisonville, was appointed as the cemetery association’s next president on April 6.

Miller has been apart of the association for two years.

“When my mother died in May 2012, I realized the cemetery was in need of some help,” Miller said.

Not long after, Miller decided to step in to do his part. Now as president, Unnewehr has left Miller with some big shoes to fill.

“It’s incredible that somebody has spent 66 years tending to a cemetery, voluntarily, never receiving a penny,” Miller said. “He personally considers everyone who is buried there part of his family. It was a lifelong love for him.”

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