Dice Cemetery, which is located at the intersection of Route HH and Vixen Road, has had some great improvements this year and is scheduled for a large memorial very soon.
The most obvious improvement is that all the roads in the cemetery have been blacktopped. This includes three east/west roads and one north/south road. These improvements were paid by the cemetery board, which is funded by a one-time burial fee and by donations. Like many country cemeteries, someone stays at the cemetery on Memorial Day to accept donations.
Dice Cemetery, a five-acre plot of ground, is a spacious cemetery with plenty of space between the more than 1,700 gravesides. The rows are neat and almost perfectly aligned. The cemetery has been in existence at least since 1870 when Catharine Standage Lane was buried there. Legend says that the first person actually buried there was a drifter who died while passing through the area and the community buried him.
According to Rita Ankney’s 1984 book on Fairview, “The first one buried there was a bum that stopped at the Dice Farm, just north of the cemetery. He was hungry and very ill, they buried him on the farm. Mr. Dice then gave land for a public Cemetery. He put the Dunkard, Brethren and Baptist church in charge of the care and upkeep of the grounds."
Phillip Dice himself died in 1872 and is buried in the cemetery.
Today, Dice Cemetery is still owned by the Baptist Church in Fairview, the German-Baptist (Dunkard) Church and the Brethren Church. Only Fairview Baptist Church is still local, but the other denominations have a representative on the board.
But the look of Dice Cemetery is in the midst of change. A native son of Fairview, philanthropist John Q. Hammons, was recently buried there and his estate left money for upkeep and maintenance of the facility.
A large memorial for Hammons and his wife is planned for the cemetery. The memorial will be like a garden on the eastern side of the cemetery, near Hammons’ parents. The site will measure 40 by 70 feet and be surrounded by a wrought iron fence with stacked stone pillars. The front side will be open and a large wall, constructed of Missouri red granite, will greet visitors. The family name “Hammons” will be the only wording on that side of the wall.
Hammons died May 26, 2013, and his grave is behind the wall, with a matching stone reserved for his widow, Juanita.
Plans call for reflection benches for visitors to the memorial with a walkway of natural flag stone steps leading to the gravesides.
It was hoped that the memorial would be complete by Memorial Day, but according to Leonard Montgomery, chairman of the board, cold weather has held up construction. Although much work has been done, there is more to do and the work will be dependent on weather.
Dice Cemetery is getting a different look, but it mission and the hard work of its caretakers will be the same.