Jan. 30, 2020

Minutes of the January 20, 2020 meeting of the Rotary Club of Mobile
Call to Order: The meeting was called to order by club president Tom McGehee at 12:15 PM.
Invocation: Jeb Shell offered the invocation.
Visitors: Bob Chappelle introduced guests of members and visiting Rotarians.
Student Guest: Vivian Stabler of St. Paul’s School discussed the benefits she has received from her service hours at school, specifically through a program called Raise the Roof.
New Member: Our newest fellow Rotarian, Matthew Lollar, was introduced by Frank Harkins.
Announcements: Our popular Mardi Gras Parade Party is scheduled for the evening of February 20, 2020 at the Carnival Museum on Government Street. Members are encouraged to bring their families and invite potential new members.
Program: Mobile’s City of the Dead: Magnolia Cemetery
Tom McGehee discussed the history of burials ranging from the Roman custom of cremations to the early Christians’ determination to bury corpses in underground catacombs. By the late 18th century the French had found that churchyard cemeteries were overfilled and had become a health hazard ultimately leading to Napoleon’s ban on burials within city limits.
The French responded with park like cemeteries that were privately run rather than controlled by the Catholic church and the idea became popular by the 1830’s. In the U.S. a similar trend occurred as church yard cemeteries reached capacity.
In Mobile the first cemetery was Catholic and occupied a site to the west of the city – where Cathedral Square and the Cathedral are today. Conti Street’s expansion led to the occupants being moved to Church Street Cemetery which was nearing capacity by the early 1830’s.
The city purchased land well west of the city limits in 1835 and named it New City Cemetery. The current name of Magnolia Cemetery was added in 1866. After showing images of various funerary art there and explaining the symbolism, Tom discussed a number of the “residents” there and some colorful stories about them.
District Governor Skip Dotherow was introduced and commended the Rotary Club of Mobile stating that this club shines like a star in the district and to keep up the good work.
Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 1:00 PM.
Tom McGehee