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Westfield Mourners Turned Away From Fairview Cemetery

Visits to gravesites denied Saturday as cemetery prepares for Sunday burial of music icon Whitney Houston.

Roseanne Benjamin lost her father on Feb. 18, 2008 after a long struggle with colon cancer. Her father Dave was a long-time Westfield resident, and there was no question in Roseanne's mind that when he passed, he would be buried in Fairview Cemetery. 

For the past four years, Benjamin, who now lives in Cranford, would stop by her father's grave to tell him about how his granddaughter was getting married, or how his grandson got into college. 

But on the fourth anniversary of his death, Benjamin won't be able to place a bouquet of flowers on his grave. She won't even be allowed in the cemetery. 

"I understand what a tragedy it is that Whitney Houston died, she was the voice of a generation," she said on the phone. "But just because she is getting buried doesn't mean that I shouldn't be allowed to see my father's grave."

Fairview Cemetery has been closed to the public as the grounds are prepped for Houston's burial. But closing the facility has caused a stir among residents who have family members in the cemetery who are barred from visiting them. 

"My father's grave is no where near where Whitney will be buried. I have no interest to see where she will be buried, I just want to say hi to my father," Benjamin said. 

There is no set time for Houston's burial besides "late morning," meaning Benjamin, and others like Jaimie Lewinski, do not have a set time when they will be allowed back.

Lewinski's sister is buried in the cemetery, and she said she checked with the groundskeeper if the facility will be closed. They told her no. 

But when she showed up Saturday morning, she was told a different story. 

"I told the police at the entrance that I was there to see my sister, and they turned me away immediately. I think they thought I was lying."

The cemetery is closed to the public until further notice. Police have indicated the entire length of Gallows Hill Road would be closed to northbound traffic starting at 6 a.m. Sunday to be used as a media staging area.

Minor road closures are expected but no direct effect on downtown should be seen. 

MRS . WRIGHT February 19, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Exactly people its just one day!! Whitney I believe should have been laid to rest in a more gated community, not a public cemetery. We all know how the people whom are famous are treated. It may not fair but honestly, Its life. Whitney made an impact on others life and the world, and I can guarntee if a poll was given about the cementry remaing open or not for Ms.Houston , people would go for closing it due to the burial service of a famous pop star...............thats final!!!
anna carter February 20, 2012 at 11:47 PM
I would take the person who own the cemetary to court so it wont happen again and put it in the news paper and let the media know about this it is sad whitney died but there are a lot of people buried there that are important to there love ones everyone that has someone buried there should have a right to see there love one and im sure that it is not written down somewhere that if a famous person died and get bury there that you are not allow to enter the cemetary i wouldnt let that get away i will have done something about that we all are important to god.
Paul Neones February 21, 2012 at 01:19 AM
The Whitney Houston burial was not the only thing going on near the Fairview Cemetery on Sunday morning. Just call Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. They had an extraordinary event: an ordination to the priesthood. The Metropolitan of New Jersey (Archbishop) and another Bishop was coming, along with many other clergy from outside the area and a church full of people. The Westfield police confused the situation and made arrival to the church worse. Many people arrived late or just turned away from this "once in a lifetime" event. All for what - perhaps 100 people (gawkers) in front of the cemetery. The closure of all the streets around the church on this particular day was an unkind act for a parish community who has had a presence in Westfield for over 40 years!
Markjohn Michalik February 21, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Oh boo hoo, so you couldn't get in that day, go the next. Your loved one is dead they will be there forever. And if you believe they can hear you, it's thier spirit not the dead body you are talking to. Geez people just need to complain about something. Let's see if anyone will SUE now, that is they way things are done today.
Markjohn Michalik February 21, 2012 at 02:30 AM
The fans who come will not be the type of people to go shopping in Westfield, maybe for crack.

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