Decaying Dallas cemetery restored; first responders honored



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Posted on June 1, 2013 at 7:11 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 2 at 5:07 PM

Oakland Cemetery

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DALLAS — An effort that was years in the making to restore dignity to first responders came to pass on Saturday.

Eight gravestones at the once-neglected Oakland Cemetery in southern Dallas have been restored for family members and first responders to see.

Dallas Fire-Rescue rehabilitated the headstones of eight public servants who died in the line of duty.

John Clark was the first Dallas first responder to die on duty; he perished fighting a fire that raged for two hours and claimed 23 cottages back in 1902.

Clark's granddaughters, Debra Dilord and Paula Wilson, huddled around his new gravestone.

"Just the fact that he was important — and is important — to the fire department... we did not know this,” Wilson said.

Much had already been lost at Oakland Cemetery. Brush and weeds overwhelmed tombstones, roads and pathways. It was hardly a fitting resting place until hundreds of volunteers arrived to help fix it up last year.

“We will never forget those who have gone before and given the ultimate sacrifice,” said a Dallas Fire-Rescue chaplain.

Fire Station 44 was instrumental in locating the grave sites and restoring dignity with a proper ceremony on Saturday.