Sometimes good fortune lands you in the right place. I could have been talking with another author who had a lovely story about how they came to writing. Or, I could have had a conversation with someone about the chilly weather or their growing family. But, while displaying at a book fair this weekend, Lee was my neighbor. Part storyteller, part story gatherer, and author of Reading the Stones: A Collection of Memories from the First State, Dr. Lee Anderson saved a historic landmark from bankruptcy and has enabled families to share their memories and personal history along the way.

Lee, a Wilmington, DE psychologist, never considered herself a writer when she went to a meeting which outlined the financially dire situation at Riverview Cemetery. Her father, along with approximately 36, 000 other souls are buried the 146-year-old piece of Delaware history. The cemetery declined over the years. At the time of a community meeting in the fall of 2000, the owners could no longer afford groundskeepers. According to reports, the cemetery looked like a jungle. It distressed the family of loved ones interred there, as well as the community that surrounded the 42-acre grounds.

Emotions ran high at the meeting until Lee tearfully stood up. “I’m going to write a book.” Without prior thought, she decided she would gather stories about people buried in the cemetery. She compiled memories, large and small, to pay tribute and raise awareness about the decaying landmark. Her book is the result of tireless work to gather words and photos of 1000 of those that passed from family members around the country.

Her monumental effort paved the way for the formation of the Friends of Riverview Historic Cemetery, a 501-c/3 non-profit organization, and placement on the National Register of Historic Places. The organization’s effort is a model for maintaining cemeteries throughout the state and country. She continues to collect stories from families which are preserved for the ages.

What makes this extraordinary isn’t just that she helped to save a cemetery or that she wrote a book, although those are remarkable things. It’s that she helped people preserve their memories, their own family histories, and gave voice to loved ones who passed through this life. From the most prominent figures in Delaware history to the many humble residents who made Delaware their home, all stories bear the weight of the past and serve as a reminder to generations to follow.

Dr. Lee Anderson stood up and gave a voice to thousands. Who will you give a voice?

[bctt tweet=”Whose stories are buried in the past that you can give new life? #writing #familyhistory” username=”loishoffmande”]

To learn more about her book and the Historic Riverview Cemetery, visit

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