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Apopka's Bay Ridge Cemetery is in dire need of help

City Council earmarks $75,000 for cleanup


Editor's Note: This article is partially republished from a story published by The Apopka Voice on July 7th, 2021. 

At the July 24th Apopka City Budget Workshop, the City Council earmarked $75,000 for cleanup and potentially managing the cemetery in the future if it is able to be annexed into the city. The below article is a snapshot of the Bay Ridge Cemetery.


The Bay Ridge Cemetery is a little slice of local history.

Located in rural Apopka just off Plymouth-Sorrento Road, it's home to about 100 graves dating back to the earliest origins of the area. Bay Ridge is the resting place of several prominent Apopkan families and the veterans of many foreign wars. It is also in the middle of an emerging part of northwest Orange County, with the Wekiva Parkway, new homes, and even a Publix going in nearby.

But despite its significance, Bay Ridge has become almost unrecognizable as a cemetery.

Weeds and uncut grass cover many of the markers. Other parts have broken gravestones, completely overwhelmed by decades of growth from trees, palmettos, and thick brush. Nature is in the process of reclaiming this land.

There are state laws requiring cemeteries to be maintained and perpetually cared for. Section 704.08 of the Florida Statute states that if the owner of a cemetery refuses or fails to maintain it, then relatives and descendants of the people who lie there have the right to take care of it.

Linna Weatherman is the property owner where Bay Ridge is located and has relatives in the cemetery. Weatherman was the wife of James Weatherman, daughter of Blanche Schopke, and granddaughter of Walter Neal Schopke and Linna Bryan Schopke—all of whom have passed away. Her husband and grandparents are all buried at Bay Ridge Cemetery.

“I think it would be a good volunteer effort to get it initially cleared out, but it’s the ongoing maintenance that becomes a question,” Becker said at the meeting.

Becker said he’s going to explore having community groups perform a clean-up on the cemetery and try to come up with a maintenance schedule or a volunteer effort to keep it in good shape.

“The ultimate end goal is to have a cemetery where people can go and pay respects on an ongoing basis,” Becker said.

Becker referenced a state law, Section 497.284, Florida Statutes, that authorizes a county or municipality to maintain and secure an abandoned cemetery or one that has not been maintained for more than six months.

Apopka, Apopka City Commissioner Kyle Becker, Bay Ridge Cemetery, Disrepair, History, Maintenance, Orange County, Apopka City Budget Fiscal Year 2023-24