Volunteers create directory for Lake Preston Cemetery

Photo courtesy Rob Swenson From left, volunteers Rose Tolzin, Mary Hauck and Blaine Miller check out the new directory for public use at the Lake Preston Cemetery. The directory provides information about each of the more than 2,000 people buried in the cemetery, including the location of their headstones or markers.

LAKE PRESTON — Visitors to the Lake Preston Cemetery no longer have to wonder around hundreds of gravesites looking for the headstones of old friends and loved ones.

A detailed cemetery directory recently became available at the cemetery to help visitors easily locate burial sites.

The waterproofed directory is attached to the outside, front wall of the former mausoleum building near the entrance to the cemetery, which is along U.S. Highway 14 about a mile west of the town of Lake Preston.

Other new features on the exterior wall include a directory holder and a shelf. In addition, two new maps have been posted on the outside of the building. One shows lots and blocks within the cemetery, and the other is an aerial view of the area.

The directory lists the name and burial location of each of the more than 2,050 people who have been put to rest in the cemetery. The expandable publication also notes the year a person was born and died. There also is room for a special note, such as whether the deceased person was a military veteran.

Mary Hauck, Reed Hauck, Rose Tolzin and Blaine Miller led volunteer efforts to research and catalog the names and locations of the buried.

Mary Hauck and Rose Tolzin, especially, deserve thanks for the time and resources they invested in the project, which took more than three years to complete, said Miller and Jerry Brown, members of the Lake Preston Cemetery Association Board of Directors.

“The amount of time they put into this cannot be counted,” Miller said. “The directory is something that has really been needed.”

Volunteers spent hundreds of hours walking around the cemetery and going over funeral records to organize information for the public directory.

Mary Hauck said walking around the cemetery to collect information was a rewarding, therapeutic exercise, especially during the Covid-19 outbreak. More importantly, she said, the project demonstrates that everyone buried in the cemetery continues to matter.

The Cemetery Association was incorporated in 1886, seven years after the town was founded. The nonprofit organization remains financially stable enough to operate and maintain the cemetery, but it lacks the resources to make significant improvements, according to President Bob Bode.

With the directory project finished, board members and volunteers are free to focus more attention on other possible improvement projects.

Their wish list includes a large sign to identity the cemetery for passing motorists; an exterior extension of the mausoleum roof to provide shade and rain protection for visitors; construction of niche space for storing cremated remains; creation of an interactive computer data base of burial information; and money to survey, plat and plan a future cemetery expansion.

Donations for cemetery improvements are welcome, according to board members and volunteers.

Contribution can be mailed to the Lake Preston Cemetery Association, 207 Park Ave. N., Lake Preston, S.D. 57249.

For more information, contact Julie Johnson, secretary-treasurer of the Cemetery Association at 605-203-1258, or board member Blaine Miller at 562-447-0228.