WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Purdue University is preparing for its first burial on campus in 72 years as plans are finalized to lay former first lady Jane Beering to rest on Slayter Hill in June.
Beering presided over countless university events in the 17 years that her husband, Steven, served as Purdue’s president. The couple arranged to be buried on Slayter Hill in 2000 when they retired from campus life, the Journal & Courier reported.
Jane Beering died March 9 at age 81. Peter Beering said plans call for his mother’s remains to be interred at the Circle of Friendship, a garden spot with granite benches surrounding a Newport cherry plum tree that Purdue retirees dedicated to her in 2001.
Her burial will be the first on campus since Purdue trustee, Lafayette businessman and university benefactor David Ross was buried in 1943. The only other person buried on campus is founder John Purdue. He died in 1876 and is buried across from University Hall.
Former Purdue Board of Trustees Chairman Tim McGinley said the idea to have the Beerings buried on campus stemmed from efforts to honor the couple for their service to Purdue.
“Those 17 years the Beerings gave was something that doesn’t happen very often these days,” McGinley said. “I always say Steve was the fundraiser, and Jane was the friend-raiser. I’m not sure I know of two people who wanted to give more to this university, quite honestly.”
McGinley said the Beering name adorns a street and a building and is associated with full-ride scholarships to top applicants. The couple both received honorary doctorates. Then came the idea of allowing them to be buried on campus.
“From a university point of view and a trustee point of view, we were very willing to go down that path with the Beerings and make that happen,” he said.
In a June 10, 1999, letter, McGinley notified the Purdue Research Foundation of the plan and asked it to do the legal work necessary to allow burial plots for the Beerings but not to discuss it publicly.
Peter Beering said his family is paying the burial expenses and is working on a monument “that is appropriate and that will fit into the landscape.”
“If you think about where this is, first you don’t really want it to look like a cemetery,” he said. “And, two, I’d like to think we can come up with something a bit more creative than a gray granite box. Three, we don’t want something that’s a maintenance headache, because that certainly isn’t anybody’s style. And you don’t want something that becomes an attractive nuisance, because as you well know, on a college campus, ‘a thing’ becomes ‘a challenge.'”
He said there is comfort in knowing that his mother’s final resting spot shows the mark she left on Purdue.
“It’s not lost on us what this means for campus,” he said. “The comfort there is that we’re fairly sure that what Mom did for Purdue isn’t lost on anyone, either.”
Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com
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