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Trees to Honor the Dead

Some people in Schuylkill County found another way to spend part of their Memorial Day.

Family members put the finishing touches on a tree planted in New Philadelphia Monday to honor the memory of 86-year-old Helen Sleva, who died two years ago. The woman was well known.

“My mother was a historian. She was very active in the community and Blythe High School and she was a member of Saint Anthony’s Church in Cumbola. She was an organist there for 45 years,” said daughter Helen Smeltz.

She was joined in the tree planting with other relatives.

“To be with her and spending the day with her because we would have participated in other memorial events, but I think this is one that’s special,” said family member Linda Featherly.

The tree planting ceremony was the idea of a man who deals with death almost daily, Schuylkill County Coroner Dr. David Moylan.

“My Aunt Francis died when I was a boy and a family friend gave my parents a memorial tree and every time I go by that bush I think of Aunt Francis,” Moylan said.

The coroner also had trees planted to remember the 250 adults and 15 children who died and passed through his office so far this year.

The coroner said there is more involved here than the simple planting of a tree. At the bottom of each hole where the tree will be planted is an urn. It is here where family members can place personal possessions of their loved one.


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