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New Oak Ridge Cemetery monuments

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRUCE RUSHTON
Photo by Bruce Rushton

As land goes, the corner where two monuments to Springfield's biggest names have been installed since last year is prime real estate. Lashonda Fitch, cemetery director, pegs the price at $72,000 per spot, each within eyeshot of Lincoln's tomb and at one of the graveyard's most-traveled intersections. It's a safe bet that the families of Richard Levi, founder of Levi, Ray and Shoup, and William Cellini, former head of the Illinois Department of Transportation who became a political powerbroker, invested considerably more on improvements.

The Levi memorial, erected late last year, now includes remains of a son and grandson, with room for others as need arises. The black granite came from a Pennsylvania quarry, says P.J. Staab, a local funeral director who designed the colonnade structure. "Each piece, it's like a fine grain of walnut or oak," says Staab, whose family plot is nearby.

The neighboring Cellini mausoleum, installed within the past three months, has no inhabitants. A plaque denoting Cellini's status as secretary of transportation under former Gov. Richard Ogilvie is affixed to stone near what will be Cellini's final resting place.

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