Recently, the Herald ran a photo of John Piearson, noting his passing. Although some “old timers” will remember John, not many in Leadville will be aware of his accomplishments relating to Evergreen Cemetery.
John, a Leadville resident and Vietnam War veteran, made the maintenance of Evergreen Cemetery the focus of his life’s efforts. Most of the time he was a single force digging out volunteer shrubs, filling in sunken gravesites, arranging to right fallen headstones, and urging others to help him in these endeavors.
Often his requests for assistance went unanswered. Nevertheless he moved forward, using convict labor from Buena Vista, badgering local officials for supplies, and using his limited finances to pay for the re-erection of headstones.
I have to wonder what will happen now. There is no obvious replacement for John. Will all of his hard work over the years be overtaken by Mother Nature? The cemetery is a hodge-podge of legal entities, making progress nearly impossible.
Many people enjoy walking the “avenues” in Evergreen Cemetery. It is a favorite haunt for dog lovers. The shaded quiet is quite a draw for both locals and visitors. But what now? The area looks good from the road with private support for the veteran’s memorial, but what of the rest? Needles continue to fall from the trees, blocking boundaries and covering headstones.
In his last years, ill with heart problems that kept him away from his project, John continued to work for restoration of the cemetery. There is still much to be done: trees to trim, needles to remove, sunken graves to be filled in; all of this work to honor those whose remains are interred there.
With John’s passing, much of the history of that 145-year-old plot of ground has been lost as well. Will there be any attempt to maintain what has been done, to reveal what has been lost?
So here is a final salute to an unsung Leadville hero, John Piearson. Well done, John.
J P Liggett