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EU Cemetery resting place of many who served God and country
Frank and Darlene Wheeler are led by Evelyn Prouty, director of the Manteca Historical Museum, through the historic section of East Union Cemetery where many of the area’s pioneers are buried. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
Arval C. Campbell was just a teen-ager when he heeded the call to fight for his country in World War II. He was one of the lucky ones. He survived that horror.

But that horrendous experience did not stop him from going to another war just a few years after the Second World War ended. The epitaph on his grave at the East Union Cemetery in Manteca says it all: Tec 5 US Army World War II – Korea.

The Army veteran died on Jan. 3, 1996 at age 73 and is buried next to his late wife Marie at the historic pioneer cemetery on Louise Avenue and Union Road.

Campbell’s resting place is always spic and span, with the grass around the gravestone neatly trimmed all the time. And that’s not just because the East Union Cemetery does a good maintenance job even in the current dire economic straits. The fallen veteran’s devoted, thankful and proud family members make sure his grave stays pristine all the time. Among the faithful ones are stepdaughter Darlene Wheeler and her husband Frank. Armed with a watering pail and a pair of scissors, the Wheelers were at the cemetery paying tribute to the WWII soldier by sprucing up his grave site.

When their task was done, the couple took a guided “historic tour” of the old section of the cemetery led by Manteca Historical Museum director Evelyn Prouty. The Wheelers were among the handful who took advantage of this docent-led walking tour around the cemetery on Veterans Day designed to raise public awareness of the rich history of this pioneer burial ground and the number of veterans, from the Civil War to the present, who are buried there. The tour was also designed to drum up financial support from the public since the cemetery is still in no position to sell burial plots due to the state’s revocation of its business license a little more than a year ago and subsequent freezing of its endowment funds and other bank accounts. Visitors who took the walking tour were asked to make a donation to the cemetery.

The cemetery’s upkeep in the past year has been made possible by a small crew of dedicated community volunteers and contributions made to the Friends of the East Union Cemetery which was established soon after the state froze the cemetery’s finances.

Prouty said a few people took advantage of the guided cemetery tour on Veterans Day.

A new cemetery board is close to completing all the requirements needed to have its business licensed approved. However, they need about $2,000 to get all these things done including the making of a new map showing all of the burial plots at the cemetery and who is buried where, and to pay for a $50 use permit from the City of Manteca.

Those who did not make it to the guided tour can make tax-exempt donations to the cemetery by sending checks – payable to the Friends of the East Union Cemetery – to East Union Cemetery, P.O. Box 591, Manteca, CA 95336. For further details, call the cemetery office at 823-8533.