Maple Leaf Cemetery groundskeeper William West, at left, and caretaker Michael Dougliss plant the first tree that is part of a new remembrance project. (Photo provided)

Maple Leaf Cemetery groundskeeper William West, at left, and caretaker Michael Dougliss plant the first tree that is part of a new remembrance project. (Photo provided)

Cemetery offers trees as way to memorialize their loved ones

People can have a tree planted in memory of a loved one, who doesn’t have to be buried in the cemetery, for a donation of $100.

The Maple Leaf Cemetery in Oak Harbor is offering people a new way to memorialize loved ones who have passed away.

Michael Dougliss, longtime caretaker, said he wanted to plant a tree in the cemetery in memory of his mother, Ethel Dougliss, who passed away in December. Then he realized that other people might want the same opportunity.

“A lot of people over the years have wanted to donate trees,” he said, “and I thought this could be a community project.”

Cemetery Commissioner Mark Forbes said he liked the proposal and they came up with the idea of creating a screen along busy Regatta Drive with the donated trees in order to help preserve the natural character of the cemetery, which is located on Northeast 16th Avenue.

“It’s a good way to keep nature separated from the road,” he said, noting that the road has become busy and development is starting to surround the burial ground in recent years.

With the tree planting project, Dougliss will be following in the footsteps of his grandfather, who planted many of the large maples in the cemetery in1928.

Dougliss himself has cared for the cemetery for the last 23 years.

The plan is to plant about 100 Emerald cedars along the edge of the cemetery.

The trees, which grow to about 15 feet tall, can be planted close together to create an effective buffer.

People can have a tree planted in memory of a loved one, who doesn’t have to be buried in the cemetery, for a donation of $100.

A tag will be placed on the tree that indicates it was planted “in loving memory” of a deceased person.

Dougliss said a family can plant the tree themselves if they prefer.

For more information, people can check out the cemetery district’s Facebook page, email staff@mapleleafcemetery.com or call 360-679-3366.

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