Wayne County Wanderings: Glen Dyberry Cemetery Clean-Up
The first time I walked through Glen Dyberry Cemetery after the event, I simply couldn't believe my eyes.
It was the morning of May 16, less than 24 hours after a powerful thunderstorm had laid waste to portions of Honesdale.
According to experts at the National Weather Service, straight line winds in excess of 100 mph roared through the borough, leaving devastation in their wake.
There was no electricity. Power lines were down all over East Street and North Main. Trees and branches had crashed onto houses and the Triangle Park was a mangled mess.
Sadly, though, that wasn't the worst of it. No, that was reserved for the cemetery.
Estimates were that as many as 70-80 trees came crashing down in just 15 minutes, causing horrific damage to this beautiful old graveyard.
It really hit home for me because this cemetery has played a major role in my life. I've been walking its quiet, shaded lanes since I was about 12.
I've ridden my bike here, sprinted up and down the hills in preparation for football season. I've sat for hours at a time under some of those trees … reading or writing or just thinking.
I have wonderful memories walking hand-in-hand with a girlfriend, with the woman who was to become my wife … then, eventually with my children and now my grandsons.
Anytime I needed a peaceful place to sit and reflect, almost instinctively I sought out Glen Dyberry.
It broke my heart to see so much devastation in such a peaceful place. However, my faith in humanity was definitely reinforced when I visited again this past Sunday afternoon...
Ethan Lehutsky is 17-years old. He's a lifelong resident of the borough, a student at Honesdale High School and a member of Boy Scout Troop 1.
Ethan has made it something of a personal mission to do everything he can to clean up the mess.
He's an energetic young man with a passion for giving back. Ethan saw all devastation at Glen Dyberry and just knew he had to help. Coincidentally, he happened to be looking for a project to satisfy the requirements of becoming an Eagle Scout and this was a perfect fit.
“It's a win-win situation,” he said with a smile.
And so, Ethan's idea to help clean up the cemetery was quickly green-lighted by everyone involved.
Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable for the Boy Scouts of America. Only about five percent of all Scouts ever reach the mark.
Ethan brings a great deal of enthusiasm to the project, along with an appreciation of the historical role Glen Dyberry has played in the community.
The cemetery was incorporated in 1854, its original charter signed by 29 local residents. By 1859, 18 acres of land had been purchased from the Torrey Family for $2,000.
The layout featured a main thoroughfare, called Central Avenue, along with several other paths branching off with names like Hillside and Winding Way. It's grown a great deal in the 159 years since.
“There's a lot of history here,” Ethan said, rattling off the names of several local heroes including: World War I ace David McKelvey Peterson, poet Homer Greene and painter Jennie Bownscombe.
“Plus I think it's important to help out the community. So many people have family members here and we want to get this cleaned up for them as much as we can.”
Just a leisurely stroll along the main road reveals a huge slice of local history.
There are beautifully crafted monuments in every direction, honoring famous Wayne County families like the Torreys, Appleys, Lords, Dimmicks, Youngs. Forbes and Greenes.
This project means a great deal to Ethan.
In fact, he's made it his mission to fulfill all the requirements for Eagle Scout status by the time he turns 18 in July. And that means putting in a great deal of time at Glen Dyberry.
“We're here every week from about 10 o'cock in the morning until three in the afternoon,” he said. “It's a lot of work, but it's worth it.”
While Ethan is the ring leader, he's definitely not a one man show. Each week friends, classmates and fellow Boy Scouts show up to lend a helping hand.
On this particular Sunday morning, Ethan had six companions: Bradyn Bertholf, John Rodriguez, Bradley Rotundo, Benjamin Flores, Andrew LaTourette and Jackson Landers.
“We've mainly been trying to clear out as many of the branches and as much brush as we can,” Ethan said. “We're not really allowed to work with the bigger trees because it's too dangerous.”
Dirlam Brothers has also played a major role in the clean-up efforts. David Cole, a longtime Dirlam employee, brings a truck each week. He helps the boys by loading and hauling away everything they gather up.
“We couldn't do it without him,” Ethan said. “I really appreciate it.”
His parents have been 100 percent supportive as well. Mike Lehutsky rolls up his sleeves, pulls on his work gloves and dives right in. Meanwhile his mom, Toni, arrives on the scene at lunchtime with a car full of delicious food.
“They're awesome,” Ethan said simply.
While the scope of devastation wrought by an angry Mother Nature was daunting, Ethan and his band of helpers have already made tremendous strides.
“I can see a lot of progress,” Ethan said, pointing to a hillside that just a few weeks ago had resembled a war zone rather than a cemetery. “I'm really happy with what we've done so far. And, we're gonna keep going.”
All of us here at The Wayne Independent salute everyone who's pitching in to help in the wake of this awful storm.
This dedicated band of volunteers has managed, in just a few short months, to turn a tragedy into a genuine feel-good story.
It will take some time and a great deal of hard work, but I have no doubt that Glen Dyberry Cemetery will eventually be restored to its original splendor … thanks in large part to the efforts Ethan Lehutsky and Boy Scout Troop 1.