Greenwood Cemetery holds Elder Preston Taylor Banquet

Greenwood Cemetery Board of Directors and Management enjoy a successful annual gala event. (photo by D. Culp)

Greenwood Cemetery Board of Directors and Management enjoy a successful annual gala event. (photo by D. Culp)

The Greenwood Cemetery Board of Directors and management held their annual Elder Preston Taylor Banquet at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel on December 11.

The gala was a black tie, upscale event where guests and honorees alike adorned the beautiful 10th floor ballroom, wearing some of the most elegant attire ever fashioned. This year marked the 128th anniversary celebration, honoring some of the people who have made and continue to make, the historic resting place memorable.

Greenwood Cemetery, Inc. is comprised of four Nashville based locations, but known and recognized worldwide for its intrinsic beauty, history and value to African Americans and the community at large. The three locations include: 1) The Preston Taylor Mausoleum and Columbarium, 1428 Elm Hill Pike (erected in 2012), Nashville, Tenn., Greenwood Cemetery (a historical site formerly referred to as ‘Main,’ 1428 Elm Hill Pike, Nashville, Tenn.; 2) Greenwood Cemetery, West, 820 Elm Hill Pike, Nashville, Tenn.; and 3) Greenwood Cemetery, North, 1248 South Dickerson Road, Goodlettsville, Tenn.

Elder Preston Taylor purchased 37 acres of land near ‘Buttermilk Ridge’ at Elm Hill Road and Spence Lane on which he established the Greenwood Cemetery in 1888. Preston, along with three other gentlemen, had planned to purchase this land together for $30,000. Preston was the only one who followed through on the transaction. His purpose was to mainly provide first class burial space that would be available at minimal cost for the African American population of Nashville, in particular, and for the surrounding communities. In his will, he deeded the cemetery to the National Christian Missionary Convention of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). It remains a non-profit establishment today.

The program was well orchestrated and organized down to the smallest detail. Board chairs and board members handled the program, awards and special accolades. Dwayne L. Bell, senior presiding manager, Greenwood Cemetery, kicked off the evening with greetings to all. An array of beautiful upbeat and smooth dance music was provided by Laura Vida (band style). Beverly Dickerson, board member, gave the invocation. Board Chair Rev. Dr. William Lee gave a hearty welcome. Owner of Fasten Funeral Home and MTFD, MA, Inc. President William Jenkins delivered the greetings. Administrative Secretary Rev. Dr. Timothy James provided the occasion.

A delicious meal was served consisting of spring greens and sunflower seed salad with two choices of dressings, a variety of lightly based salmon, tasty dressing wrapped in a chicken breast, fresh vegetables and hot buns, topped off by a triple chocolate cake and sweet tea.

Music was provided throughout the meal, and the program resumed with additional greetings from Rev. Dr. Cristal Williams, president and regional minister of Tennessee. Dwayne Bell, Sr. presented some prestigious awards, and a couple of the awardees were pleasantly surprised. After more acknowledgements, introductions and remarks were delivered from Dwayne Bell, Sr. Guests were invited to mix, mingle, network and to take advantage of the dancing until 9:30 pm.

Dwayne Bell, Sr. left no stone unturned and graciously thanked and recognized his family, including: wife, Beverly Walker Bell; son, Dwayne Bell, Jr. (it happened to be his birthday that evening); and daughter, General Sessions Judge Rachel L. Bell. Also present were included: his own minister, Rev. Dr. Judy Cummings, and the Greenwood Cemetery staff. As he acknowledged the staff, he noted their day-to-day work, and the extreme importance of how they work collectively to keep things running smoothly. The staff included: Judith Mooney Hill, Carlette Cross, Taylor Ewing, Edwina P. Freeman, Diane Maloney, Jackie L. Gordon, Ike S. Wright, Rodney Darden, Calvin Kelly, Kevin D. Motley, Anthony W. Erin, Sr. Linda D. Johnson, CFSP, Ronald E. Bond and Jeffrey E. Woods.

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