MONDAY, August 15 — After a nine-year process, the Fratcher Memorial Garden in Mount Hope Cemetery was officially unveiled last week. In a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday, Loretta Stanaway, president of the Friends of Lansing’s Historic Cemeteries, was joined by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and others who helped contribute to the completion of the garden.“The purpose of the garden is to give people a place to inter (cremated remains) and remember and honor their loved ones,” Stanaway said. “We wanted to provide a place of serenity and peace and solitude where people could remember their loved ones in a respectful and peaceful way.”
The memorial garden features a cremation tower, perennial flower beds, benches, walking paths, a fountain, a statue, a gazebo, and two walls designed for the interment of cremated remains. The first wall has already sold all 60 niches, and the several spots have been sold in the second.
The project was funded by the Fratcher Foundation and Lansing City Park Millage. Stanaway, also owner of grave site beautification business Memorial Minders, worked with the city to design and create the garden.
Charles Fratcher, the namesake of the Fratcher Foundation, was a lifelong Lansing resident until his death in 2004. A graduate from Lansing Public Schools and Michigan State University, Fratcher was “truly the son of our city,” said Bernero. He was an advocate for Lansing and was involved in numerous local organizations. Before he died, Fratcher set up a trust with PNC Bank to ensure that his and his family’s gravesites were taken care of after his death and that Mount Hope Cemetery would be well maintained. To date, the Fratcher Foundation has donated nearly $500,000 to Mount Hope Cemetery.
“Mount Hope Cemetery had a special place in his heart,” Bernero said. “Charlie wanted to enhance the beauty and utility of Mount Hope Cemetery in ways that could not be done by the city of Lansing left on its own. The results speak for themselves. Thanks to Charlie Fratcher, this basin is now a serene and special place that enhances the experience of everyone that comes to Mount Hope to pay respect to their family members, friends, and loved ones.”
While no firm plans are in the works, Stanaway expects to add additional elements to the memorial garden.
“There’s a lot of new in this, and there’s a lot of future in this,” she said. “We look forward to keeping it up and running and expanding and growing.”