Monday, May 24, 2004

Cemetery seen as 'sacred trust'

By Janet Wetzel
Enquirer contributor

Before roosters crow a welcome to the day, Mary Anne Berry, 59, of Mount Washington, is tackling her many pursuits. She laughs when telling how some have dubbed her a bag lady, or streetwalker. The names fit, she said, because she often walks the neighborhood with a trash bag, collecting litter, or tearing down illegal signs. And whether she's doing that, working in the cemetery, mentoring students, or helping at the local school, she tackles each with zest.

Berry, a retired office worker, considered it a sacred trust when in 2001 she was asked to take over Mount Washington Cemetery Association. She's secretary/treasurer, and her husband, Jim, is president. She sells gravesites, schedules burials, holds annual fund drives for maintenance, and is remapping the cemetery, all volunteer. She's also working on a history of Mount Washington.

She's often at Mount Washington Elementary School, helping with the reorganized PTO and to raise money to restore the library, which was closed for lack of funds.

Berry, a mother of two, with one grandchild, said kids are a priority. She's been a Cincinnati Youth Collaborative mentor five years, has spent years helping at People Working Cooperatively, which helps elderly and disabled people stay in their homes, and is a supporting member of the African American Chamber of Commerce.

As member of the American Legion Auxiliary in Mount Washington, she coordinates its annual July 4 parade. She worked hard to lobby city hall for the Mount Washington Community Center. Now she's working to raise money to get programs for all ages.

Do you know a Hometown Hero - someone in your community dedicated to making it a better place to live and helping others? E-mail Janet Wetzel at, or fax to 513-755-4150.

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