Historic ABQ cemetery in need of cleanup

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The cemetery where some of Albuquerque’s most famous early citizens are buried is in disrepair.

That cemetery sits in the heart of Albuquerque and it is a big piece of New Mexico history.

People have been complaining about its neglected condition for years.

Now, the company that owns it is listening.

Racist graffiti tags the walls and even a veteran’s headstone. Beer bottles litter the ground and weeds are the most lively part about this place.

Historic Fairview Cemetery off Yale near Avenida Cesar Chavez is one of the oldest cemeteries in the city.

Cemetery historian Susan Schwartz said many of the city’s founders, and even some state leaders, are buried there, like Edmund G. Ross, a territorial governor of New Mexico.

“I am just looking forward to the day this will be a place of honor to those who founded Albuquerque,” Schwartz said.

“Right now it looks like an empty cemetery that nobody cares about, so homeless people come here,” said Christine Taute. “There’s graffiti on the walls.”

While a few have tried to clean up their own family’s grave sites, Schwartz said there are 12,000 burial sites at the historic cemetery and many of the descendants no longer live in Albuquerque.

Daniels Family Funeral Services owns the property but said, unlike Fairview Memorial Park Cemetery next door, the historic side was never set up with a fund for basic upkeep.

Still, Mark Shalz, vice president of New Mexico operations for the Daniels group, said the company is working on it.

“We just feel that it is part of our responsibility to be a responsible member of the community and help out,” Shalz said.

A crew was out Thursday, filling old, sunken graves and pulling weeds.

Shalz said it is the start of extensive spring cleaning.

“We know and recognize the community has a vested interest in the historical nature of the cemetery,” he said.

Shalz said people can expect to see a change starting next week.

A community group is also encouraging people to go out to the cemetery at 8:00 Saturday morning to help with the cleanup.

Daniels Family Funeral Services has applied to turn the Historic Fairview Cemetery into a nonprofit.

At that point, a board with representatives from the company and the community would handle the upkeep of the land and be able to apply for state grants to help out.

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