A New Friend at Lone Fir

Dear Liza,

Yes, you remember correctly, Lone Fir is our local Pioneer Cemetery. It was first used in 1860 to bury Mr. Emmor Stevens on his family farm. It was used by just the family for a while, then Colburn Barrel bought the land to bury victims of a disaster in which his steamboat The Gazelle blew up, killing many people. Mr. Barrel felt so badly that he gave plots to bury the victims for free, including his friend and business partner, Crawford Dobbins.

And now there is a new friend, with a shiny, colorful headstone. Joel Weinstein was a local writer and publisher. He helped artists and authors thrive, publishing a magazine called Mississippi Mud. He published authors like Ursula K. LeGuin before they were famous, and promoted visual artists, as well. He was much appreciated by Portland.

When he got sick with lung cancer, he and his family moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where it was warm and sunny so he could be more comfortable. He died there in 2008, but he was brought back to the city he loved, and buried in our Lone Fir Cemetery.

I love the color and whimsy of the decorations if his headstone. Playful skeletons, as in Day of the Dead art, seem to say that death is big, but spirit is bigger. Art is bigger. We don’t run from death, we acknowledge it and even play with it.

And because death will always win, we might as well enjoy the game.

Love,

Grandma Judy