Do you own Hillcrest Cemetery? No. The cemetery belongs to the estate of the late owner. She was aware and supportive of our long-term involvement and commitment to Hillcrest. Hillcrest is an abandoned cemetery, as defined by the State of Georgia.
Where is your office? We do not have a business office. All business operations of the association are handled in home offices of the board members or at meetings. For driving directions or a mailing address, please see this page.
Can you tell me where a grave is located? We will try to help when we can, but occasionally have a backlog of research requests. Email is the best way to reach us, for this. Please include all the information you have such as full name, dates of birth and death, other persons who may be in the same lot, and the name of the person who purchased the lot. However, if you learn about us while visiting from out of town or if you have an urgent need such as a possible/pending burial on a family lot, please contact us however you see fit. Maps of the various sections are on our Locate Graves page if you already have location information.
Doesn't the City/County/State have a responsibility to maintain the cemetery? No. State law does not require any government intervention with abandoned cemeteries. They are specifically allowed to assist with their upkeep and preservation, but are not required to do so.
We own a lot. Can we still use it? Yes. The closing of the cemetery company did not affect you as a rights-holder for your lots. The only real differences are that all services normally provided by a cemetery (grave opening, closing, government filings, etc.) are now handled by your funeral home, and that certain pre-paid services such as second-spouse date of death engraving may not be available through your prior arrangements. We do request that you or your funeral home contact us prior to any services or installations, simply for the sake of record-keeping and sharing of information. This can also help to avoid having services at the same time as another is taking place nearby, adjust scheduled mowing and cleanup events, and the tornado siren tests—it's right next door. Also, please note that active cemeteries often provide after-care such as funeral flower removal, ground leveling and sod placement. We can not provide these services and encourage you to work with your funeral home to pre-arrange for this when planning other services.
What can I do with burial spaces we no longer plan to use? If you want to sell a lot you own, you can sell it to any interested buyer. Because this is a legal property transaction, we are not able to help directly with this process. Please be aware that for sale ads in the paper and online often attract scam artists these days. We recommend finding a buyer through personal contacts, religious organizations and possibly funeral homes. You may also donate your lots to our organization, after which we have facilitated the transfer of these lots to others for making donations to our maintenance fund, but we can not purchase or formally sell lots. The board estimates the value of a space in the main sections (1-9 and Circle) at $600 per space and in the bronze section (Section M) at $500 per space. For more information, please contact us so that we may go over the special requirements for such transactions, including the need for proof of ownership.
Can I buy a lot at Hillcrest? While the cemetery was essentially sold out when business operations ceased in the 1990's, some families have donated lots to us so that we can facilitate transferring them to donors who cover some of our maintenance expenses. We have a number of lots available from 1–18 spaces in each available currently. Values have been estimated by the board between $500 and $600 per space, based on location.
Isn't Hillcrest a perpetual care cemetery? Unfortunately, no. Many families thought it was, but no perpetual care fund was established, nor have we ever found any written information indicating that it was promised. Regardless, there is no fund today, as the cemetery was always maintained using current income. When that funding source began to dry up, the cemetery became overgrown, and our organization was created by the community to take over (without any income from the operation of Hillcrest as a business.)
Is Hillcrest safe to visit? We have dozens of visits every month with no issues. Of course, as with any public place, we recommend reasonable care and alertness when visiting. Some have expressed concern about the apartments across the street—they are gone and have been replaced with a nice new active senior community. (Some of the residents volunteer with us.) If you prefer visiting when others are around, keep an eye on our Facebook page for volunteer days—these are great days to visit while we are there. You don't have to volunteer to visit, of course.
Can someone meet me at the cemetery? While we have volunteers nearby who keep an eye on the cemetery, none of them have the knowledge to help locate graves, and they are not usually available to schedule to be there at a specific time. We hope to start having more volunteer events, at which time we will have people there to help with locating graves or talking about issues. The primary contact for Hillcrest lives 90 minutes away at this time, but we will help by text, email, Facebook Messenger or phone (you may need to leave a voicemail for a quick call back) before or during your visit when able. See the Contact Us page for details.
What can I do to help on my own time? Please visit our Volunteer page for information.
Can I get credit for court-ordered community service by volunteering at Hillcrest? When our volunteer coordinator lived nearby, we had great success working with community service assignees. However, we do not have this resource at this time except during occasional community volunteer days posted on our Facebook page. (Note: We are currently a 501(c)(13), not a (c)(3) if the latter is a requirement for your service.)
Is there anything visitors should not do? Please do not leave trash (including discarded flowers) at Hillcrest, as we do not have sanitation service. Please do not try to repair any damaged memorial markers without authorization from the family. We do not recommend the use of any chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides or cleaning chemicals. Many of these can damage memorial stones over time. [Update: We have seen good results from the new headstone cleaner marketed as D2 Biological Solution.] There are very specific care guidelines for cleaning headstones. Here is one such resource.
Can I still donate to or have a brick added to the Hillcrest Veterans Memorial Wall? At this time, the wall is considered complete and we do not have current plans for an expansion.