$182K Trust From Late ‘Rosie the Riveter’ Will Help Fund Greenwood Memorial Park Maintenance in Centralia

Money Will Help Sustain the Improvements Set to Be Celebrated Saturday


The estate of a beloved former Lewis County resident who was known for volunteering with seniors and working as a “Rosie the Riveter” during World War II is assuring she continues to benefit her community well after her death.

The Centralia City Council on Tuesday voted to enter into an agreement with the estate of Helen B. Holloway to receive $182,242.99 into a city-operated trust for the non-routine maintenance activities that will need to take place at Greenwood Memorial Park as time goes by.

Holloway, who died in 2021, and members of her family have been laid to rest in the cemetery, and Holloway’s estate hopes to carry out her wishes through funding maintenance of the park as long as the funds remain, according to information presented at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

Since Centralia has the certificate of maintenance for the park as granted by the Department of Historic Preservation, the city will be able to use the money in the trust to perform ongoing maintenance for the facility.

The estate bars the use of the funds for routine maintenance and instead stipulates that the maintenance and repair work Holloway’s funds afford to be used for capital improvements.

The projects that the trust will fund will be allocated for those identified either at the time of the park’s biannual budget adoption or when the budget is amended, according to the city’s agreement with Holloway’s estate.

Holloway was known for many roles during her three decades of volunteering for senior services in Lewis County. Shortly after her death, Chronicle columnist Brian Mittge wrote about her life.

“As a teenage girl she had been a ‘Rosie the Riveter’ back in Chicago, part of America’s hard-working home front during World War II,” Mittge wrote. “From test-firing rifles to building military gear, she energetically supported our troops from the shop floor. Then she married and her new husband brought her to Lewis County, where her life story is like a picture book of what came before today’s familiar landscape, from the submerged timber town of Kosmos to strawberry fields underneath Great Wolf Lodge.”

She was volunteer of the year at the Twin Cities Senior Center, served as treasurer for their nonprofit, was president of the service group Altrusa, helped allocate funds for United Way, served on the board of the Lewis-Mason-Thurston Area Agency on Aging, and much more.

Now she’ll have a positive impact at a once beleaguered Centralia cemetery.

This maintenance trust comes at a time when Greenwood Memorial Park has already seen a recent metamorphosis.

By 2018, Greenwood Memorial Park had been deemed abandoned with tall weeds giving way to open burial vaults, many of which were filled with trash. Fallen tree limbs were strewn about the premises and dirt tracks full of mud puddles traced the cemetery. The grime-covered and broken headstones stood amid patches of grass, while orange cones marked holes in the soil.

The damage done to the cemetery was synonymous with neglect, as then-owner John Baker let the place fall into disrepair due to personal and legal troubles, according to previous Chronicle reporting.

But since that time, Centralia received the certificate of maintenance for the park and obtained $500,000 from the 2019 state capital budget for its restoration.

The cemetery had undergone quite the transformation as of 2021, according to previous Chronicle reporting. The city and stakeholders removed dead trees, cut back the overgrown brush, power washed the headstones and repainted the concrete vaults, replacing those broken.

The Centralia City Council voted on April 12 to receive a $30,000 grant from the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation to improve the Greenwood Memorial Park even further.

The grant afforded the design, construction and installation of two wrought iron gates and the asphalt paving of the main entrance road and loop around the facility’s Pioneer Square.

Most recently, there was a work party held at Greenwood on Saturday, May 21, to get the place ready for a formal rededication that’s happening at 11 a.m. May 28 at the park.

The rededication ceremony will occur with a tribute to all the folks who have been buried there, including many veterans.

A member of a Gold Star family will be honored on behalf of all the Gold Star families that have loved ones buried in the cemetery during the program. Gold Star families are those who have loved ones who died in service in the country.

As part of the rededication, there will also be a flag ceremony performed with five new flag poles, which are featured prominently at the facility.