Bill Hediger was worried a street-widening project in a growing part of northwest Oklahoma City would disturb the 109-year-old cemetery his family has tended for decades.
Tucked behind rows of cedar trees inside a barbed wire fence, Hediger Lutheran Cemetery is just west of N May Avenue on the south side of NW 150.
Hediger, 73, of Edmond, took over the mowing and upkeep of the cemetery from his father, Hans Hediger, who died in 1999.
He remembers being at the cemetery in the 1940s when his grandfather, Traugott Hediger, used a push mower around the graves. Cows frequently broke down the barbed wire fence and tipped over headstones, he said. The men and boys would have to upright the stones.
“This used to be the country,” Bill Hediger said.
Now a $2.9 million project to widen NW 150 from two to four lanes is underway, but the work won't unsettle the cemetery.
A note on the project plans clearly states, “Do not disturb cemetery,” a city spokeswoman said.
There is just enough room to widen without disturbing the graves.
The project will add a sidewalk along the west side of the cemetery, officials said. The barbed wire fence will remain intact as work surrounds the grounds and cars whiz by.
Debbie Miller, assistant city engineer for Oklahoma City, said the improvements should make the area look better.
“It should look nice and clean through there,” Miller said.
The state Transportation Department is paying 80 percent of the project cost, and the plans have been through environmental concern surveys. The widening of NW 150 is expected to improve traffic flow to State Highway 74, which also is N Portland Avenue.
The headstone on Fred J. Albrecht's grave reads, “To know him was to love him.” It's been there since he died in 1973.
John Bierschenk was buried there in 1923. “We Shall Meet Again,” his headstone reads.