July 23, 2016

Mostly sunny

High honor for her husband

Allison Wood | The Gazette

SEVILLE — Virginia Martin flies in from California every year to spend Memorial Day at Mound Hill Cemetery, where her husband, Navy Capt. Barney Martin, and five generations of her family are buried.

This year, she watched as Boy Scouts raised the U.S., Ohio and Medina County flags up a brand new flagpole donated in her husband’s honor.

Capt. Martin (1925-96) served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War during his 33-year career, which included three years as director of the Naval Investigative Service before his retirement in 1976.

In a speech during the ceremony, Virginia Martin said close family friend Vice Adm. Earl Rectanis noticed the flagpole looked old and rusty during last year’s ceremony, so he helped establish a foundation in his late wife’s name to raise funds.

Riley Members of Boy Scout Troop 456 in Seville unfold an American flag during the flagpole dedication Monday at Mound Hill Cemetery in Seville. (Allison Wood | Gazette)

Virginia Martin’s descendents were some of the original pioneers of the area, with the first arriving in 1816.

“I’m probably related to about one-fourth of the people buried here,” she said.

She first came to Mound Hill when she was 7 years old in 1935 to help decorate her grandfather’s grave, located just southwest of the giant Indian burial mound that gives the cemetery its name.

When she returned in 1972 after an absence of many years, many of the graves were overrun with weeds.

“When I returned, I was appalled at the condition of the place,” Martin said. “My relatives were buried under poison ivy and weeds.”

Her grandfather’s headstone had even tipped over on its side.

She started picking weeds and planting red, white and blue flowers by her relatives’ gravestones and began returning to Seville every year for the Memorial Day ceremony.

To further improve the cemetery’s appearance, she said she is helping to establish a memorial fund to place flowers in front of every gravestone.

Capt. Martin is one of 458 veterans buried at Mound Hill Cemetery and his name is said three times during the roll call of veterans during the ceremony for the three wars in which he served.

The flagpole was donated to the cemetery by the Derlie M. Bland Memorial Fund of the Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation, a charitable organization.

The actual donor wished to remain anonymous, so the gift was distributed through the foundation, cemetery sexton Lori Halliwell said.

Mound Hill Cemetery was not the only place in the county to receive a donation for Memorial Day. In Lodi, a lighted clock from the Lodi Rotary will stand in the village square in anticipation of the community’s bicentennial in 2011, Rotary President John Milinger said.

Contact Allison Wood at (330) 721-4050 or allisonwood@ohio.net.