Bicentennial Bodies

Richard Miller, winner of the annual Leo Dodd Award for Historic Preservation
Richard Miller, winner of the annual Leo Dodd Historic Preservation Award for his volunteer work in restoring Brighton Cemetery

The Brighton Cemetery, on Hoyt Place overlooking the Eastern Expressway and former Erie Canal bed, is no longer in Brighton. The surrounding property owners voted to be annexed by the City of Rochester so they could hook up to the city’s sewer system and through some sort of loophole the city was not required to keep up the cemetery. It fell into serious disrepair. Richard Miller has devoted his retirement years to restoring the gravestones and maintaining the property. His volunteer work earned him the Leo Dodd Historic Brighton Preservation Award, an award given each year in my father’s name.

Pittsford Wegman’s provided a box lunch for the Historic Brighton group and the town historian tried to separate the folklore from the historical facts on the history of the familiar local names. After the presentation we spotted the recipient in the parking lot. I noticed he had saved the plastic knife, fork and spoon in his shirt pocket. I asked him if he could be sure the grave stones that he repaired and uprighted were above the right bodies. He thought for a few moments and told us the cemetery wasn’t as badly vandalized as others because nobody knows where it is. Even though thousands of cars whiz by the Winton Road, a stone’s throw away, every hour of the day.

Brighton Cemetery photo by Leo Dodd 2014
Brighton Cemetery photo by Leo Dodd 2014

The cemetery was founded in 1821 so we are commemorating its 200th anniversary this year. I remember walking around the cemetery with my father as he pointed out names connected to Brighton’s brick industry. Preserving that story was one of my father’s retirement projects. My father would be so proud have Richard Miller win this award.

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