WESTBOROUGH – At the back of Pine Grove Cemetery off South Street, a memorial is being erected for those long forgotten.
On Thursday, Nov. 16, members of the Westborough Cemetery Memorial Project gathered to celebrate the installation of stone pillars, which are part of a monument to commemorate the hundreds buried in unmarked graves.
According to the project’s committee, those in the unmarked graves include about 500 patients from Westborough State Hospital; 120 persons too poor to afford a gravestone; and about 40 unnamed babies.
“People deserve to be remembered,” said Heidi Trainor, one of several speakers at the ceremony. “Seeing this project come into fruition has been incredible.”
The project began about 12 years ago with Glenn Malloy, a former member of the board of trustees at Westborough State Hospital. He formed a committee to help with the research and raising funds.
Malloy himself struggled with mental health; shortly after he entered UMass-Amherst in the late 1970s, he was sent home because of a “complete breakdown.”
“I was helpless,” he said.
Malloy recalled how he was hospitalized on what turned out to be a misdiagnosis. He began the memorial project because he felt a connection to those forced to stay in state hospitals.
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“They were the recipients of injustice,” he said.
Over the years, the committee raised $50,000, mostly with a bake sale here, and an appeal there.
Committee member Barbara Banks managed to locate nearly 740 names, with help from the Westborough Town Clerk’s office and elsewhere.
Another member, Ed Clinton, provided his services as an architect to create the memorial – seven stone pillars surrounding a stone table and flooring.
“The people buried here have talked to us,” he said. “Glenn was the first one to hear them.”
Each pillar will have a bronze plaque inscribed with 100 names; the committee would also like to have a stone bench installed.
That will take about $45,000 more; committee member Amy Morgan said they hope to have the plaques installed in the spring of 2024.
Donations may be made through www.gofundme.com/2k2n9fgk.
For more information, visit http://westboroughcemeteryproject.org.