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
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
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
More materials on Viola Rapp:
Listen to the radio story
broadcast on WOUB.
Read a touching letter by Viola's granddaughter.
picture of Viola's daughter and great grandson,
visiting her grave.