Discover Remarkable Roanoker’s For Yourself
This historic Roanoke cemetery is a century old and many of the people resting at Evergreen have life stories stretching back nearly 200 years. Everyone buried at Evergreen has a story to tell. Some are more fantastic than others and many of those remarkable life stories are captured in a free booklet given to anyone who wishes to take the self-guided historic walking tour of the park. As you stroll the 54-acre park, you will see the social history of Roanoke revealed through the inscriptions on gravestones. The monuments themselves illustrate changing patterns of taste in art and architecture from the very early 20th century to the present.
Listed below are several of the remarkable men and women, citizens of Roanoke, with a sketch of their lives.
Captain Robert Day (1836–1929)
There is only one federal civil war soldier resting at Evergreen Burial Park—Captain Robert Henry Day. He was captured on the first day of the battle of Gettysburg and gained fame for leading an escape from the infamous confederate Libby Prison in Richmond. Day became the first road foreman for the N&W Railroad in 1882 and five years later, the first superintendent of the Roanoke street car system. A leading citizen of the Star City, Day Avenue was named for him.
World War II
Captain William “Bill” Overstreet (1921–2013)
Hailed as a modest hero of World War II, Bill Overstreet, an Army Air Corp fighter pilot, received multiple commendations for his role in defeating Nazi Germany Luftwaffe. He gained fame for dramatically flying under the arches of the Eiffel Tower to take down a German aircraft, which inspired and reignited members of the French Resistance in Paris. He was awarded the French Legion of Honor—the nation’s highest decoration in recognition of his service in the liberation of France.
Business and Industry
Carter Burgess (1916–2002)
Carter Burgess served as a secretary of the general staff of the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight Eisenhower and personally delivered the message to French General Charles de Gaulle detailing the Overlord Plan—the Allied invasion of Normandy in June, 1944. The next year, 1945, he served as a deputy executive secretary of the Secretariat during the San Francisco conference that created the United Nations. After the war, he became a special assistant to the Secretary of State. Burgess went on to become the CEO of Trans World Airlines, and turned the company’s losses in to profits in just 11 months. He became president of American Machine and Foundry in 1958 and returning to public service became the American Ambassador to Argentina in 1969. Burgess was also the founding chairman of the National Corporation for Housing Partnerships in Washington.
Junius Fishburn (1865–1955)
A member of one of Roanoke’s best-known founding families, the Fishburn family opened a small grocery store that grew in stature as Roanoke grew in size. Wealth followed success and Junius, with his simple home school education, became president and later chairman of the First National Exchange Bank. Oh, and one other business success worth mentioning—he was also president of the Times-World Corporation, publishers of the Roanoke Times.
Martha Anne Woodrum Zillhardt (1916–2002)
Martha, the last person listed in the Evergreen walking tour, really did have a high-flying life. She was Virginia’s most prominent woman aviator and was paramount to the growth of flying’s popularity in the valley. She began taking flying lessons in 1939, and three years later, at the age of 26, she become the first woman in Virginia to earn an instrument-rated pilot’s license. Martha opened the Woodrum Flying Service, which grew to a fleet of 14 aircraft and 5 flight instructors. She was also the first woman president of the Virginia Aviation Trade Council.
George Preas (1933–2007)
George played professional football for the Baltimore Colts and had a big part in 1958 NFL Championship sudden death overtime game called, “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” George helped open the hole for the winning touchdown run by Alan Ameche defeating the New York Giants.
Discover Remarkable Roanoke for yourself… Come and take the tour!