Memorial Day Respects

Flowers left, prayers said at local cemeteries

Cotton Ruzicka, president of Frisco Cemetery Association, places American flags on the graves of veterans for Memorial Day at the historic Canadian County cemetery. (Photo by Robert Medley)

By Robert Medley
Managing Editor

Each year since 1989, Tom Hale of Yukon drives to the Kansas Cemetery in northeast Piedmont to visit the grave of his sister on Memorial Day.

Freda Hale Shorney was just 38 years-old when she died of cancer . She left behind two young children. It was a young age for a mother of two children to go, Hale said. He took flowers to her grave on Sunday before Memorial Day. Skies were mostly clear, the wind sweeping across northeast Canadian County at Morgan and Edmond roads.

On Memorial Day weekend, people paid respects at cemeteries across Canadian County.

Kennita Shelton and Pauline Jackson, both of Yukon, decorate the grave of Kenneth Jackson for Memorial Day at Yukon Cemetery Sunday, May 24. (Photo by Robert Medley)

At Yukon Cemetery on Garth Brooks Boulevard, skies were sunny Sunday. With rain in the forecast for Monday, Memorial Day, vehicles slowly moved through the cemetery, as people parked and got out to stand near graves. The Yukon Cemetery headstones show the names of many those families Yukon was built by, Kroutil, Kouba, McNeil, Mulvey, Yanda, Wright and many others.

Kennita Shelton, of Yukon visited the grave of her father Kenneth W. Jackson, who died in 2014 at the age of 83. Pauline Jackson, also of Yukon, joined her to decorate the graves.

“This is my dad and we’re putting flowers on his grave for Memorial Day,” Shelton said. “It is a day to remember the soldiers and your loved ones who have passed on.”

Her father was a Korean War Army veteran, she said. She left blue, white and yellow paper flowers and a small heart with the word “dad” on it.

Along Britton Road, in what is known as rural Yukon, between Frisco and Richland roads, is the Frisco Cemetery.


Cotton Ruzicka, 66, Frisco Cemetery Association president, lives a mile west.

He had about 280 small American flags to place at veterans’ graves with the help of Jean Kyle, Roger Schubnell, treasurer of the association. His son Jordan Schubnell, 17, placed a flag on his great grandfather’s grave, John Sherman Schubnell, who served in WW II.

Ruzicka placed a flag at the grave of his father-in-law, Robert Wolf, a Korean War veteran. His dad, Anton Ruzicka fought in World War II. His uncle George Ruzicka was killed in WW II.

The Frisco Cemetery was started by Richard Griffin in 1896.

Tom Hale of Yukon visits the grave of his late sister, Freda Hale Shorney, at the Kansas Cemetery in northeast Piedmont on Sunday, May 24. (Photo by Robert Medley)

Roger Schubnell has been cutting the grass and trimming around the headstones since he was 5 years-old.

The cemetery was near the bygone town of Frisco, and it remains surrounded by farmland today. Descendants of people who came to the area in the 1889 Land Run still live on the farms of the area.

“We take a lot of pride in the cemetery. We try to carry on the tradition of keeping it looking nice,” Roger Schubnell said.

At Kansas Cemetery, the pioneer cemetery, maintained by the Dickerson family over the years, is surrounded by a chain link fence, a few trees and wide, open skies. Hale thought about growing up in Checotah near Lake Eufaula.

“I was very close to my sister,” Hale said. “She died of cancer, a brain tumor,” Hale said.

American flags were placed at veterans’ graves for Memorial Day.

“It’s a time to remembering our men and women in the military and what they have done,” Hale said.