A Visit to Dr. Guy’s Grave

In April  2017 Handly Caraway and Laurence Layne visited the grave of Dr.Walter Bryant Guy in Jacksonville, Florida. Dr.Guy was buried in Evergreen Cemetery off of Main Street in downtown Jacksonville. Evergreen is a very large cemetery, and fortunately Find a Grave, a web site specializing in cataloging graves of the famous and non-famous, listed his grave. Handly called the cemetery, and a very helpful employee of the funeral home which is affiliated with the cemetery, Jessica Carroll,  gave us information. She was most helpful, providing detailed maps on how to reach the grave site. To put this in perspective, Evergreen cemetery is 167 acres with 99,000 interments. If we didn’t have coordinates (GPS location: N 30 dg. 22.14o min., W 081 dg. 38.648 min.) that would have been a lot of wandering around.

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The section Dr. Guy is buried in is shaded by large oaks. The plot was donated by his Baha’i friend and student Katherine Vernon. She had offered the burial plot to Dr. and Mrs. Guy, as it was large enough for both them and her mother, Marion, who had died in 1938. Katherine, who died in 1983, is also buried there. Mrs. Guy was buried in Maine as she moved up North several years after Dr. Guy’s death to live with their son.

Guy_Grave2_resizeHandly Caraway and Laurence Layne visit the grave of Dr. Walter Bryant Guy

After Dr. Guy’s death in 1940, Mrs. Guy and Katherine Vernon erected a monument at the grave site. Dr. Guy’s name is on one side of the monument, the other side has the Vernon’s names. The calligraphy on the top of the monument above their names is Arabic and means “O Glory of the All–Glorious.” It is a Baha’i invocation of the Holy Spirit, which is associated with the founder of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah. A quote on the bottom of Dr. Guy’s side of the monument reads: “Death Proffereth Unto Every Confident Believer The Cup That is Life Indeed. Baha’u’llah.” On the Vernon’s side of the monument, the words read: “Lo, The Sacred Pledge Hath Been Fulfilled, For He, The Promised One, Is Come. Baha’u’llah.”

Vernon_Grave_resizeThe Vernon side of the monument

The Guys and their friends were ardent believers in the Baha’i Faith. Katherine Vernon was the secretary of of the Jacksonville Baha’i Group, that had been cultivated by Dr. Guy. Her words: “It was a beautiful service at the home in St. Augustine. The Baha’i sacred words and the soulful music of the the choir from the Normal School filled the rooms; then a drive to Jacksonville. I owned a burial plot, needed only one side, and had once offered the other half for use by Dr. and Mrs. Guy if ever they desired. So we drove to Jacksonville and there Baha’i prayers were held at the graveside.” and “That was all we could do so very little for one who had done so much for Jacksonville.”

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The “soulful” choir from the “Normal School,” were the students from Florida Normal and Industrial School in St. Augustine, a black teacher’s and industrial trade college. The service at the Guy’s home was a racially integrated event, something rarely found in the South in 1940. Dr. Guy was a friend of Dr. Nathan Collier and Sara Ann Blocker, who had built and guided the School in Jacksonville before its move to St. Augustine in 1918. Both Dr. Collier and Ms. Blocker became Baha’is, as did many of the teachers of there. Many of them were Dr. Guy’s patients also.

Sympathy_Guy_ServiceJPGA thank you card from the family of Dr. W. B. Guy acknowledging expressions of sympathy. This was found “accidentally,” and “coincidentally” in some long-forgotten papers in a box at the Baha’i Center in Jacksonville.

 

 

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