The board and advisory council of the Lone Fir Cemetery Foundation was deeply saddened by the news of Governor Vic Atiyeh’s death. As honorary co-chair of the foundation along with Governor Barbara Roberts, he provided great counsel, leadership, wisdom and enthusiasm to the organization.
Governor Atiyeh was a relationship builder who inspired people to think that anything was possible. He was an advocate, ally and long-time friend of Portland’s Chinese community and often spoke of his memories of living in Southeast Portland.
Governor Atiyeh encouraged the foundation to be a voice for marginalized populations who helped build our city and were early settlers of Portland. He also encouraged our organization to create “teachable moments” for youth who visited Lone Fir Cemetery.
His quiet strength, gentle smile, humor and encouragement will be genuinely and profoundly missed.
Lone Fir Cemetery is a living storybook of Oregon’s history, recognizing the known and honoring the forgotten. Lone Fir Cemetery Foundation provides strategic financial support and structure for Lone Fir Cemetery. It strives to be a model of how our community should engage with and nurture our cemeteries as opportunities for education, culture, history, and active green spaces.
The Lone Fir Cemetery Foundation is an Oregon nonprofit corporation established in 2011 to raise awareness of Lone Fir Cemetery, its history, and its connection to the history of Portland and Oregon. The Foundation’s inaugural project is to raise funds for the construction of the Cultural Heritage Garden at Lone Fir.
Its founders include Rebecca Liu and Marcus Lee of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association; Stanley Clarke, cemetery historian and former member of the Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries; Mary Faulkner of Ferguson Wellman Capital Management and Friends of Lone Fir Cemetery; Jane Hansen of Lango Hansen Landscape Architects; and John Laursen, graphic designer and public-art typographer. Former governor Barbara Roberts, then a Metro Councilor, championed the project at the Metro Council. The founders and supporters represent many different groups, all of which share a vision of what “Block 14”—the barren spot of land at the southwest corner of the cemetery—can become: the Cultural Heritage Garden at Lone Fir.
Lone Fir Cemetery, located in southeast Portland, is one of Portland’s historical pioneer cemeteries. It was for decades owned and managed by Multnomah County, but ownership and management were transferred to Metro Regional Government in 2007. Many of Portland’s original founders and prominent citizens and their families are buried at Lone Fir, including six mayors of the city and four governors of the state.
Lone Fir Cemetery is a civic landmark and a treasured historic resource with an extraordinary, multicultural past. The lovely grounds, filled with trees that belie the cemetery’s name, sustains the memory of military veterans, firefighters, and mental hospital patients, and is a final resting place for people of diverse ethnicities and nationalities, including Chinese, Japanese, Russians, Ukrainians, Vietnamese, and African-Americans.
In addition to its central location and wealth of history, Lone Fir also has great potential to serve additional city residents and visitors as a contemplative green space. Due to the nature of its exterior walls and modest entrance, most passersby are probably unaware of its beauty, and many neighborhood residents walk, bike, or drive past without noticing Lone Fir. The Cultural Heritage Garden will create a new and inviting public entrance to Lone Fir, and the cemetery and the community will benefit from an increased profile that will help overcome such issues as vandalism and neglect.