The Lutz Cemetery has been a landmark in the community for a century, but it often goes unnoticed.
There’s a group of dedicated volunteers, with the nonprofit Lutz Cemetery Association, who want to make sure that the grave sites within the cemetery off U.S. 41 are not neglected.
Donations help pay for upkeep, including mowing grass and maintaining gravesites.
Many burial plots over the years were sold without perpetual care plans, according to Kathy Vanater, secretary/treasurer of the association.
The group raises money to help maintain the cemetery. It will have a booth at the annual Fourth of July festivities in Lutz, but donations are welcome any time, Vanater said.
About 1,600 people are buried at the Lutz Cemetery, including members of prominent families, past and present.
Among them are Fred Polen, a teacher at Myrtle School, and later a mail carrier; Herbert Vernon, owner of Vernon & Land Co.; and, three generations of the Goheen family.
It is also the final resting place of Oscar Cooler, a champion of Lutz youth sports; and Carolyn Meeker, former president of the Lutz Civic Association.
The hallowed ground is a legacy donated to Lutz residents by C.E. Thomas, who was president of the North Tampa Land Company in the early 20th century.
A group of Chicago investors bought about 32,000 acres, north of the city of Tampa. They sold vacant lots to some of the early settlers of Lutz, and made an offer that anyone who bought 10 acres could have a free lot in town or a burial plot in the cemetery.
For many years after its founding, Lutz residents would gather once or twice a year to clean up the cemetery. However, that practice ended long ago. In the 1950s, the nonprofit association stepped in to fill the gap.
For information or to make a donation, people can stop by the association’s booth on July 4. Or, donations can be mailed to Lutz Cemetery Association, P. O. Box 1353, Lutz, FL 33548.
Published June 15, 2016