Edmonds honors veterans during annual cemetery tour
Many paused on Monday to honor and remember those who have served in the American military forces.
In honor of Veteran’s Day, the Edmonds Cemetery Board hosted its annual Veteran’s Day tour of the cemetery, highlighting local veterans.
Led by board member Dale Hoggins, about 50 visitors gathered at the cemetery to learn about local veterans, including a few family members of veterans buried there.
Around 400 veterans of various wars, dating back to the Civil War, are buried in Edmonds. Flags dotted the cemetery landscape on Monday in honor of their service.
One of the first stops on the walking tour highlighted the work of Evelyn Maxwell. Though not a veteran herself, Maxwell spent well over 800 hours volunteering at the VA Hospital after World War II, helping wounded soldiers and those returning from battle.
“That kind of dedication gets overlooked,” Hoggins said.
Herbert Meyring was another of the highlighted veterans on the tour. He and his brother both fought in World War II. Merying died in battle in Germany after he was hit by an artillery shell. A piece of his uniform rests in the grave.
One of the graves visited on the tour belonged to Torkjell Overa, a native of Norway. During World War II, Overa, who was born in 1920, still lived in Norway when the Nazi’s occupied the country.
He escaped to England and joined the Norwegian Air Force, training in Canada. After a successful military career in Norway, he returned to Canada, and later he and his wife moved to Washington where he was a commercial fisherman until he died in 2004.
“Technically he’s not a U.S. veteran, but he made great contributions,” Hoggins said.
Benjamin Luce fought in the Civil War, taking his 11-year-old son with him when he left. The native of Rochester, New York, moved west to Edmonds after the war.
Hoggins explained that because communication was almost non-existent during the Civil War, younger men often played the drums as a way of communicating.
“Drums were an important means of communication,” he said. “Smoke filled the valleys, and they couldn’t see, but they could hear.”
Standing at the Daniel family plot, Hoggins retold how Jim Daniel, originally from Louisiana, fought as a Union soldier during the Civil War. He said most people don’t know that there were Southerners who fought on the side of the North.
More recently, Francis Runnefeldt fought in almost every theater during World War II, from fighting in Africa to landing on Utah beach during the Invasion of Normandy as a combat engineer.
He survived the invasion and was in Paris when the treaty was signed to end the war.
Well-known Edmonds businessmen Larry Hubbard and Chett Bennett were also highlighted. Both were veterans of World War II and were instrumental in making the cemetery possible.
Hubbard purchased the cemetery from the former owners in order to maintain the upkeep, while Bennett helped make it a city park in the 1980s.
“The cemetery board is dedicated to making people feel like the cemetery belongs to them,” Hoggins said.
The tour ended at the flagpole, which was erected in honor of all veterans. Next to it are eight marker stones, which has been the source of some mystery for the cemetery board.
The eight markers were discovered in a back room of the cemetery building years ago, but without any documentation about why they were left uninstalled.
The board decided to place them next to the flagpole, as all of the markers belong to veterans, despite knowing that several of the people are not buried in the cemetery.
“Many people ask why we don’t know where they are. In the early days, funerals were a family affair, and as time passes and people move away, records have been lost,” Hoggins said.
The cemetery board also holds events on Memorial Day and the third weekend of July, honoring locals buried there.