When Ralph E. Peters Jr., joined the town’s burial commission, a large part of the North Burial Ground was overgrown, unkept and unsightly.
That was in 1982.
Over the years, Mr. Peters worked tirelessly with others on the burial commission to transform the town-owned cemetery. However, he died Sept. 23, 2007 before realizing the plans he helped set into motion.
“Politics in Bristol in the early 80s was volatile,” said Town Clerk Lou Cirillo. “And Ralph wasn’t a very political person. He rose above the tumultuous discontentment, and that’s a testament to who Ralph was.”
Mr. Cirillio was among many who spoke about Ralph during a dedication ceremony Sept. 19 at the North Burial Ground. Current members of the burial ground commission voted to dedicate a pond in the cremation garden as Peters Pond, in honor of Mr. Peters’ commitment to the town.
The cremation garden lies along the side of the property that abuts Asylum Road. The land is considered wetland, and since bodies are required to be buried at 6-feet, the land was too wet to be used as a traditional cemetery. Mr. Peters, along with members of the commission, looked into creating a cremation garden.
“The trend is going more toward cremating loved ones, instead of the traditional burial,” said Enzly Ramsay, burial grounds superintendent.
Construction on the cremation garden completed in 2009.
“Ralph was known to many as Beans,” said Howard Brelsford, a longtime friend of Mr. Peters. Both were in the Boyscouts together as children.
“We did a lot of horsing around at that camp.”
Mr. Peters’ nickname stemmed from his first camp sleepover experience, Mr. Cirillo said.
“Ralph said he went off to camp with a bunch of rich kids, and being a sexton’s son, they didn’t have much,” Mr. Cirillo explained. “And his mom sent him off with a blanket and two cans of beans.”
A stone next to the pond bears Mr. Peters’ name, along with the dates he served on the commission.