Tucked away behind a patch of trees just west of Brooks Road lies the Medical Lake Cemetery, 21419 W. Thorpe Road, a small patch of land that was donated to the city by the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1881.
Visitors walking through the cemetery can find the graves of many of the founding residents of the city – names like Hallett and Campbell that are also the names of streets in Medical Lake. Many of the old headstones were carved from rock that came from the Medical Lake quarry.
Every year on Memorial Day, the Medical Lake Cemetery Association holds a service to remember fallen soldiers and family members. Around 50 to 60 visitors come to observe the holiday. This year, the association will honor the veterans buried there, some of whom fought in the Civil War.
Janice Radmer, president of the association, has been working with other volunteers to prepare the cemetery for its Monday visitors.
Radmer said the association formed in 1988 after years of relying on random volunteers to care for the land. Radmer joined around that time, and although she’s involved with other volunteer organizations, she said her favorite is the cemetery.
The grounds are covered in grasses and wildflowers that are native to the area. This helps with irrigation, since the sprinklers don’t cover the whole area of the cemetery.
Radmer said keeping up with Mother Nature is always a challenge. Families who have buried loved ones there often make donations to the cemetery, volunteer groups come to mow the lawns, and sometimes the association can get inmate work crews from Airway Heights to help keep the place nice. Recently, the association had to remove a tree from Stanley Hallett’s lot after it was infested with pine beetles. The group is also trying to raise funds to complete a fence around the area.
The group will accept donations to the association on Memorial Day after the service. Radmer said that small reunions between old friends, family members or schoolmates happen after the service every year while refreshments are served.