A Brief History of the Hill Cemetery Archway

Submitted by: Anita Westbrook - June 2010

Charles Westbrook

The board members of the Hill Cemetery Association (HCA) had been discussing having an archway built for the cemetery entrance, and Charles Westbrook approached one of them with a request to let him do the job.  Believing his specialty was woodworking, the committee at first told him no.  What they didn’t know was that he had worked with metal and welding doing iron burglar bars and gates, and was well qualified for the job.  Charles didn’t let that initial “no” stop him though, he desperately wanted to contribute to the family cemetery and begged to be given a chance.  He was then asked to submit a drawing, and when the committee saw the design he was given the job.  Charles designed and built the archway for the entrance into Hill Cemetery.   Charles had agreed to let the HCA pay for the materials but he volunteered his time and labor; which was truly a labor of love.

           Charles worked on the archway in his workshop at home, and family and friends enjoyed watching as the project neared completion.  He was very proud and felt honored to have been given the opportunity for something that was so important to him.  He was very dedicated to the project. 

Charles at entrance to cemetery

          Charles had been diagnosed with colon cancer and had already had one surgery, and was taking chemotherapy at the time he started the project.   His wife, Nita, said he commented that he wondered if he might be the first one that was carried through the new gate.  Nita said, “But thanks to God, he survived almost six years, several surgeries and treatments after completing it.”  

          At the time of his death, funds were contributed by his daughter’s co-workers at Harris County to help with expenses.  Charlotte Westbrook Atkinson, his daughter, thought it would be very fitting and appropriate to use the funds to honor her dad.  She purchased the plaque which is now part of the archway and states the archway was designed and built by Charles.    

          The archway and plaque is a constant reminder to family members and friends of Charles’ love, dedication, and devotion to his family and to the cemetery project.