When 60-year-old Joel Marks died of brain cancer in September, his family chose to bury him at Spring Brook Cemetery in Mansfield because it was in their hometown and full of history and beautiful old trees.
The 22-acre cemetery also was marred by hundreds of feet of rusty chain-link fence — a defect that 24-year-old Logan Marks plans to help fix in his father’s honor. He’s pledged to raise $14,000 to replace 260 feet of perimeter fencing along Spring Street.
“I always promised [my father] he would be laid to rest at a beautiful location, and I am raising money to uphold that promise,” Logan Marks wrote on his GoFundMe Web page.
As of mid-October, Marks, an actor who recently finished playing a lead role in the international touring company of “Rent,” had raised $5,985 from 127 donors.
The cemetery’s board of directors was “surprised but very grateful” by Marks’s campaign, according to president David Grant.
“We are a private nondenominational cemetery, so all our money comes from selling lots and burying people,” Grant said. “It’s hard to raise money; we don’t have a church or town behind us.”
Spring Brook is the largest cemetery in Mansfield, with 3,400 plots and a new 24-niche columbarium. An unknown number of people are buried there, according to a history on the cemetery website.
Spring Brook opened with 4 acres bought for $350 in 1860. The site had been used as a cemetery before then, though; the oldest grave is that of Avery Dean, the infant son of William and Abigail Dean, who died in 1790.
The cemetery grew over the years. The original Roland Green School was at one time located within the present cemetery grounds; Spring Brook bought the land after the school burned down in 1923 and used its remaining foundation stones for foundations for cemetery markers.
Spring Brook’s most prominent structure — the Card Memorial Chapel — was built in 1898 by tap-and-die manufacturers Simon and Mary Card in honor of their daughter Lulu, who died at age 30 while on a fishing trip to Canada with her father.
The red brick chapel, which was designed by Lulu Card’s fiancé Charles Eastman, features a copper-topped steeple, a green slate roof, leaded and stained glass — and periodic swarms of bees that are removed by a professional beekeeper.
There are more than 500 veterans buried in the cemetery; an Unknown Soldier’s Monument was built in 1913.
The cemetery has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2007.
In his appeal for funds for the cemetery, Logan Marks says that Spring Brook “is a wonderful place but could use a little love.”
In an e-mail, Marks said that he worried that he and his two brothers and mother had made a mistake choosing the cemetery because parts of it — the fencing and some roads — were in poor repair.
“But then I realized that if I tried fixing the things he didn’t love about Spring Brook, he would be happy and at peace,” Marks wrote. “I promised him I would beautify the cemetery for him, the other people at rest, and our town — and that is a promise I am intending on keeping.”
Marks also has set up a business account at Mansfield Bank, 80 N. Main St., Mansfield, for contributions. Checks can be made out to “Spring Brook Fundraiser.”
Johanna Seltz can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org .