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UNC Plans To Make Room For Tar Heel Faithful At Chapel Hill Cemetery

Posted December 11, 2003

— It was North Carolina native Charles Kuralt's dying wish to be buried in the Chapel Hill Cemetery. There was only one problem -- the graveyard was full.

After some touchy negotiations, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill officials were able to grant the request.

Now, the university has plans that will give many Tar Heel faithful the opportunity to make the historic cemetery their final resting place.

The Chapel Hill Cemetery tells a story. As a writer and English professor, it is a story Bland Simpson appreciates.

"It's considered very hallowed ground," Bland Simpson said. "The portal to the southern part of heaven. That's a nice thought."

George Clark is the first of many familiar names in Tar Heel history buried here.

"[Clark is] the first resident of this particular city of the dead," Simpson said.

"You walk down one lane and there lies Frank Porter Graham, the great humanitarian. Almost next to him is Paul Green, the great author," said William Friday, former UNC president. "Charles Kuralt and his wife are up on the knob of the hill. There are people from all eras buried here. It's about full now."

The cemetery is full, but the university is taking steps to expand. The plan is to create an ashes garden where families could scatter cremated remains.

"This does then alleviate that issue of having to have additional ground or land for burials," UNC associate vice chancellor Bruce Runberg said.

Officials would place the ashes garden in a wooded area just beyond the cemetery walls to give more people the chance to make the cemetary their final resting place.

"I hear from people frequently that they wish they could get in here," Simpson said. "I hear from other people who are just as glad they can walk in and walk out."

UNC's Board of Trustees recently signed off on the plan, but must still approve the final project in the coming months.


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