John Pearsall was a huge figure in the history of the FOMH.
According to his obituary, John was a Board member for 30 years—that is amazing in itself—but beyond that John was the leader of our gardening activities during the heyday of MH gardens. As a master gardener himself he attracted a contingent of master gardeners who designed and managed creative perennial gardens throughout the cemetery.
He experienced fame during his reign, the highlight of which was the FOMH being awarded first place in the city-wide “Flower City Looking Good” contest in 2003. This was a big event in those days with all kinds of groups competing every year. Led by John Pearsall, we all paraded to the City Hall for an awards ceremony hosted by the mayor and city council. Amazingly enough, this year – 2023- our current mayor has restarted this annual gardening contest.
John’s iconic gardens surrounded the fountain. Can you imagine lovely Victorian gardens surrounding the fountain, and gardens in front of the Old Chapel? Today we are fortunate to have our amazing perennial garden maintained by Mary Olinger and her committee (they also keep the Scattering Garden) and our two circle gardens by the gatehouse maintained by Janet Keller and David Krotz.
John was involved in many projects, one being the restoration of the SBA hill which we still struggling with today. John had us lay chicken wire across the hill and had his partner Ed bring tons of soil in pails from the barn. The hill was populated with myrtle from Highland Park where John lived. It was beautiful and self-sustaining until the city dug up the hill to insert curbs and take out a staircase.
People came from all over to view our gardens and to talk with John. They observed his love for flowers and his devotion to the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery. We are grateful to John and his partner Ed Rosenberg who both remembered the FOMH in their wills with generous gifts.
We thank you, John. Your memory is a blessing to us.