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Oklahoma City road-widening project won't disturb 109-year-old cemetery

A street-widening project won't disturb the Hediger Lutheran Cemetery in northwest Oklahoma City, officials say. The small cemetery is just west of N May Avenue on the south side of NW 150.
by Robert Medley Published: April 15, 2013

A cherub is engraved on the headstone of G.F. Keefer, 1899-1917.

A granite marker is erected for Ernestine Eckert, who died in 1916, and John Eckert, who died in 1919.

Bill Hediger's great-grandfather, the Rev. Jacob Hediger, was a Lutheran minister and missionary who moved from Nebraska to start the small cemetery. Rev. Hediger had plans to build a church, but died before he could build it and he is buried in the cemetery.

Hans Hediger, who served in the U.S. Army in World War II and died in 1999, is the last one to be buried at the two-acre cemetery. Today, it is surrounded by housing additions, schools, churches and the road that continues to expand.

There are not too many small cemeteries that remain in the Oklahoma City limits, said Tom Demuth, owner of Demuth Funeral Home. Small cemeteries have historical significance and are important final resting places of loved ones, he said.

Demuth said he found the oldest grave at the Hediger cemetery is that of Lena D. Slahn, 1907. He's helped Bill Hediger research the known burial plots there of 23 adults and 12 children. There is a plot of sandstone markers, too, with no words left on the markers. The names of the Winter family graves may have been etched on the stones once, but have eroded in the wind.

Demuth said family members still visit the graves. He said the cemetery was owned by the Peace Lutheran Church in Edmond for many years before the land was sold to a developer who kept the cemetery in place. There are no plans to move it.

Bill Hediger has done a good job taking care of the cemetery, Demuth said, and hoped he would be buried here too one day.

“Bill's been out here mowing out of the goodness of his heart,” Demuth said. “If he didn't do this, it would be an overgrown mess.”

by Robert Medley
Breaking News Reporter
Robert Medley has been a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1989, covering various news beats in the Oklahoma City metro area and in the Norman news bureau. He has been part of the breaking news team since 2008. A 1987 University of Oklahoma...
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