BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) Concordia Cemetery celebrated its 160 year anniversary Saturday, but one day later cemetery officials’ elation came crashing down, upon learning the cemetery’s equipment shed had been burglarized.
Cemetery board member Joe Chaya said thieves stole property worth $20,000, including riding lawnmowers, push mowers, grass trimmers, and other groundskeeping equipment.
“It put us into a devastating position here, in terms of can we continue to keep the cemetery up, or can we not?”
Now the East Side landmark’s board of trustees is plotting its next move to overcome the weekend setback, and turning to the “City of Good Neighbors” to help recover from those steep financial losses.
The break-in was a bitter disappointment, said Diane Savaterri, president of the Concordia Cemetery Foundation, after Concordia officials had just held a 160-year celebration with their community partners.
“We have a block club that came and helped when the cemetery was first abandoned. So we gave thanks to all those people, they came they accepted it. It was a joyous occasion.”
But as Savaterri pointed out, this was just the latest of many setbacks for Concordia Cemetery, including the conviction of a board member nearly 20 years ago who stole $150,000 from Concordia’s treasury.
Cemetery records show there are more than 450 war veterans buried at Concordia, including Medal of Honor winner U.S. Army Pvt. John McHugh, for gallantry at the Battle of Cedar Creek, Montana in 1876.
Concordia’s staff of volunteers are determined to bring the cemetery back again, but Board President David Speth said first things first, “The security comes first, then secondly I think we are going to have to evaluate where we can get funding.”
Once Concordia’s security issues are addressed, board members said they can’t afford new groundskeeping machinery, but they will gladly accept lawn equipment.
Anyone who can spare a lawnmower, a trimmer, or other piece of yard equipment that is in good working order, is asked to please call 674-6293.
Donations are also encouraged, and you can visit Concordia Cemetery’s Facebook page for more information.