History of the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church Cemetery and the Slovak Evangelical Cemetery of Springfield Township, Ohio
4.98 acres were purchased in 1925 by then Parish President William Bezbatchenko, Sr. on behalf of the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of East Akron, Ohio. You gained access to the property down Kays Dr. or Almeter Rd. off Krumroy Rd. The land was adjacent to an already existing cemetery at the end of Kays Dr. called the Slovak Evangelical Cemetery or the Slovak Lutheran Cemetery which was owned by St. John's Slovak Lutheran Church.
In 1925 Father Athanasy Hubiak consecrated the land and the first Cemetery By-laws were adopted Dec 15, 1925 and they were printed in both English and Russian.
Lots were being sold in family plots of 12 lots that cost $27. Among the first burials in 1926 were Anna Guzy, Luke Wacher, Casian Woyar and Michael Zahirsky.
From the late 20s to about 1945 the cemetery was not only a resting place for our loved ones, but it was where our people enjoyed life at social picnics and dances. There was a pavilion in the southwest corner of the property with a wooden dance floor and an outdoor social bar that served chilled beverages. Many parishioners had picnics in front of the gravestones of their family members.
Around 1940 the 2.75-acre Slovak Evangelical Cemetery adjacent to our land was donated to St. Nicholas. In 1967 we purchased 1.82 acres that would give us access directly to Krumroy Rd. After years of complaints by the homeowners on Kays Drive who felt we brought too much "traffic" down their road, we built our own access road. And in 1993 we bought the front .56 acre lot on Krumroy to make the entrance wider.
In the early years William Bezbatchenko, Sr. and Steve Guzy looked after the cemetery and took care of the cemetery books. It seems that groups of men would volunteer to cut the grass and take care of the property. Some expenses in 1936 were lunch for the grass cutters $4.68 and a new scythe handle $1.39. Picnic income and expenses are noted on the cemetery books and in 1942 it was necessary to repair the picnic platform from all that dancing. In the early 1950s individual parishioner donations of $5-10 a year became necessary to raise funds for the upkeep of the grounds.
Regular Cemetery Secretaries started showing up in the records in the 1950s.
The Cemetery (Secretary) Administrator position was voluntary until in the 1990s when our property had grown to 10.11 acres and there were many graves to trim around and more burials. The overall appearance of the cemetery became more professional as we paved the road, added a new brick entrance sign, Veteran's memorial and cross, flagpole, built a garage for equipment storage and dressed up the front with fencing.
Past Cemetery Administrators
1940-50 Steve Guzy; 1950-1955 John Kovachick; 1956 Ted Malish; 1957-1975 Jack Grisak; 1976-1977 Nick Dudik; 1978-1995 Tom Petroff; 1996-2008 Emil Guzy; 2009-2016 Bill Price; 2016-present Walt Malish.
The Slovak Evangelical Cemetery is the 2.75 acre eastern section of our cemetery just past the circular drive where the Veteran's Memorial and the flagpole are located. This was the burial ground established by the Slovak Lutheran Church of St. John the Baptist that was once located at 21 Broad St. in East Akron.
According to Emil Guzy, past cemetery administrator, the Slovak Cemetery was disbanded in the mid-1930s and most of the remains there were removed to other cemeteries. Around 1940 the representatives of Slovak Evangelical made a "gentleman's agreement" with the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cemetery to "care for" the remaining graves and gave us the 2.75 acre parcel. Emil's father Steve Guzy was looking after the cemetery at that time. There are about 16 graves still remaining today buried between 1919 and 1939.
But the Slovak Evangelical Cemetery lives on today on the internet. If you go onto www.findagrave.com and search for St. Nicholas Orthodox Cemetery, it is listed under the Slovak Evangelical Cemetery. We have tried numerous times to get it changed to 2 separate cemeteries or them being a part of our cemetery with no success. We did succeed in getting them to list us under our own name. Prior to that, St. Nicholas Orthodox Cemetery was not even mentioned.
We were successful in getting the USGS to change the name to St. Nicholas so that Google Maps and Bing would show us on their maps.