Woman #607: Viola Rapp

Viola

Viola

Ever since we began work on the cemeteries project, my heart was captivated by one very simple “proper” stone which the family of Viola Rapp had placed over what they thought was her grave. In fact they had placed it over the correct number grave (607) but in the wrong section. It was over male 607 not female 607. I tried in vain to contact the family before finally moving the “proper” marker to the correct grave. Later, in resetting the man’s numbered marker, I discovered a buried jar with children’s plastic beaded necklaces, a child’s plastic digital watch, and a faded illegible letter. Though I intended to reset the “time capsule” over Viola’s grave, I never got around to it.

This spring, I got a call from Jerry Morris, a medical student at Indiana University, identifying himself as is a great grandson of Viola Rapp, informing me that they had discovered the mistake that they had made in placing the “proper” marker and time capsule in 1990, and stating that his grandma Dorothy, Viola’s oldest and only surviving child would like to visit the cemetery and have a family ceremony at the real grave site. Now, quite elderly, this might be her last chance to visit her mom’s final resting place. I agreed to help.

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon late in May, Jerry, his grandma, two aunts and his mom, Nancy Morris, arrived, went to the real grave site, planted flowers, reset the time capsule and held a ceremony. There were prayers, the singing of Amazing Grace, many tears . .  but most important, a daughter who, as a girl of five, had last seen her mom just before being placed in an orphanage – and who possessed only one faded picture of that most important person – could now commune with her in that beautiful, hallowed spot.

Tom Walker, Chair, Ridges Cemeteries Committee, June, 2006