Four Maryland residents were honored on Saturday, October 18, 1997 in Elliott City for their outstanding and unique contributions in preserving and protecting both modern and historic cemeteries, and furthering legislative efforts to make the cemetery industry more accountable to Maryland families. The Periwinkle awards were given by the Coalition to David Goodman and Carolyn Jacobi, both of Montgomery County; Clifford Guy of Harford County; and James Purman of Carroll County.
Carolyn Jacobi, a resident of Montgomery County, is a former cemetery manager and cemetery sales director. She left the industry in 1994 because of the unfair and unethical business practices that she experienced first hand. In 1995, Ms. Jacobi founded Eternal Justice, Inc., a non-profit, consumer advocacy organization dedicated to establishing stronger laws in Maryland to protect families in their dealing with the cemetery industry. Ms. Jacobi played a significant role in drafting and lobbying for legislation in the 1997 Legislative Session in Annapolis. The resultant Maryland Cemetery Act went into effect in July of this year.
Eternal Justice continues to assist Maryland families victimized by unethical or abusive practices within the death-care industry.
James Purman, a resident of Carroll County, is the prime mover behind the restoration of Holy Trinity Episcopal Cemetery in Eldersburg. The restoration of this quarter acre churchyard, which dates to 1771, began under Mr. Purman’s leadership in 1990. The major task of clearing debris and over-grown foliage from the 75 to 100 grave sites has now been accomplished. Purman has helped establish a trust fund to ensure the future upkeep of the cemetery. He has also published a book entitled “Rescue from Oblivion” which details the history of Holy Trinity Parish, the tombstone inscriptions, as well as the rehabilitation project at the cemetery.
In addition to his work at Holy Trinity Cemetery, Purman has often served as a “good-will ambassador” and spokesperson for the Coalition in situations where old graveyards are endangered by development–for example, the accidental discovery in the spring of 1997 of human remains on the grounds of Springfield State Hospital in Sykesville during construction of a police academy. Purman continues his activities in the field of historic preservation, through his membership in the Coalition and as curator of the Sykesville Gatehouse Museum of History.
David Goodman, a resident of Montgomery County, first became aware of problems in dealing with the cemetery industry in 1994 following the death of his daughter, Rachel. The Goodman family found cemetery officials uncooperative and uncaring when it became necessary to relocate Rachel’s grave, after learning that the original gravesite was not in a section that allowed upright monuments–a requirement under Orthodox Jewish law. In disbelief that Marylanders had no office to turn to with a grievance such as his, Goodman sought help from the state legislators including Sen. Martin Madden and Del. Dan Morhaim. Goodman served on a Governor’s Task Force in 1996 to review complaints relating to the cemetery industry and to make recommendations for legislation to regulate and license cemeteries in the state. As part of the lobby effort, Goodman formed the Consumer’s Alliance to Reform the Death Care Industry. When Gov. Glendening signed the Maryland Cemetery Act this past July, the State Senate presented Goodman with the proclamation stating that the legislation creating the Maryland Office of Cemetery Oversight would henceforth be known as Rachel’s Law. Goodman is presently serving as chairman of the eleven-member Advisory Council which will provide guidance to the Director of the new regulatory office.
Clifford T. Guy, Jr.
Clifford T. Guy Jr., a resident of Cecil County, is primarily responsible for the rescue of the Civil War-era Dennison Family Graveyard during the building of a new housing development in 1996. Mr. Guy noticed that heavy equipment was working on the site and debris was being burned in the vicinity of the old graveyard. Mr. Guy brought the graveyard desecration to the attention of Cecil County Planning and Zoning officials. With Guy’s help and persistence, county officials researched the history of the graveyard. It dates to about 1800, and contains between 45 to 60 graves, including the graves of Civil War soldiers.
Thanks to Mr. Guy’s civic mindedness, the owners of the new development agreed to preserve the cemetery with a buffer area around it, to provide fencing and landscaping, and to arrange for the homeowner’s association to maintain the cemetery, in cooperation with the Dennison family descendants, the local historical society, and the Cecil County government.