The Easton Volunteer Fire Company made a sizeable donation to Union Cemetery last week for its upkeep after learning that 44 former Easton firefighters are buried there.
Fire Chief Robert Klem, who is actively involved in the Easton community, knew that the cemetery was in need of funds for maintenance. But, when he found out that so many past members of his department are buried there, he and his fellow firefighters decided it was time to get more actively involved.
“We had to do something to help with the upkeep,” said Klem.
The $4,800 donated to Union cemetery comes from a fire department fund in honor of Russ Neary, a former Easton Volunteer Fire Department Lieutenant who died in the line of duty on Oct. 29, 2012 during Hurricane Sandy.
“The EVFC is all about community members helping their community and Russ Neary was a prime example of that,” the department posted on its Facebook page.
Union Cemetery, on the corner of Sport Hill Road and Stepney Road, has long struggled financially and relies on volunteers for its upkeep. Historically, the sale of gravesites funded the cemetery’s maintenance, but because the cemetery no longer has that source of revenue, the property has begun to fall into disrepair.
Firefighters who have relatives buried at the cemetery are grateful for the department’s donation.
Wayne Crossman, a former Easton firefighter, said the money donated to the cemetery is in line with department’s mission to keep up the graves of their family members.
“I have many relatives buried in this cemetery from my great grandfather to my mother and father,” said Crossman, whose father served as chief of the department for 18 years..
Bill Selski is also very grateful for the donation. “Nine out of ten of my aunts and uncles are buried there,” said Selski, whose father was a volunteer fireman and second assistant chief in the 1960’s.
Bob Laskay, a lifetime member of the Easton volunteer fire department who oversees the Union Cemetery Association with his cousin Bruce, has volunteered countless hours alongside his cousin to improving the conditions of the historic cemetery. Laskay says the generous donation from the fire department – in addition to the funds raised online – will go a long way towards supporting much-needed maintenance, including mowing the lawn and fence repairs.
The GoFundMe page launched earlier this year to help raise funds to maintain the cemetery can still be used to make donations.
Photos by Rick Falco