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Aaron Gilbert earns Eagle badge for gravesite restoration at Pleasant View Cemetery

The Pleasant View Cemetery outside Wilsonville has discovered a great way to go about renovating its grounds, gravestones and other features: Call Boy Scout Troop 194.

In March, the Wilsonville-based troop saw 18-year-old Reed Burris earn his Eagle badge for a project involving the restoration of a dozen lost gravesites holding the remains of U.S. military veterans dating back to the early 19th century.

More recently, Wilsonville High School senior Aaron Gilbert recently undertook a similar project, completing the restoration of a trio of Pleasant View gravesites Sept. 8 to earn his own Eagle badge.

“I wanted to do something here because I look around and I see that a lot needs to be done,” said Gilbert, who plans to study forensic science next year at the University of Nebraska as part of the ROTC program.

That answer belies Gilbert’s ties to Pleasant View, however, largely because he is not the first member of his family to complete an Eagle project at the cemetery. Three years ago, Aaron’s brother, Cameron, also restored a gravesite by fabricating a new concrete base for the grave of a pioneer resident by the name of Pearl Parrott.

Aaron Gilbert’s project, meanwhile, not only picks up where his brother left off by restoring the bases for three separate tombstones, he also touched on the same pioneer family.

“He showed up here on Halloween and I helped him out,” Gilbert said, referring to his brother’s project. “I saw how good they looked and how they turned out and he referred me to (Pleasant View President) Charlotte (Lehan) and I started talking with her and then that’s how the idea came.”

For his project, Gilbert created new concrete bases with slots for three tablet monuments of quite different sizes, Lehan said in a written account of the project.

“One was for William Parrott,” she said, “in the same row as Pearl Parrott, whose new base was created by Cameron Gilbert, a couple years ago.”

Aaron Gilbert also worked on graves belonging to a man named David Ratcliff, as well as the grave of a child named Mary Bell. Mary is one of three children from the same family interred at Pleasant View, Lehan said.

“That guy over there, Ratcliff, he doesn’t have any family in the area,” Gilbert said. “And Charlotte suspects that he came over here alone and died here alone. It’s amazing to see that these monuments have been here since pioneer days.”

It’s been a long road for Gilbert, who joined the Cub Scouts 12 years ago when he was in kindergarten.

“Me and my brother kind of started at the same time,” he said. “And then my dad also joined at the same time and ended up being my leader in Cub Scouts, so that was nice.”

Gilbert said the close-knit nature of Troop 194, which boasts at least 10 Eagle badge winners in the past three years, has helped keep him motivated as he progressed through the ranks.

“It was really the motivation of just our troop in general and the adult leaders in our troop,” he said. “I believe Troop 194 has a very high percentage of Eagle Scouts, and most of the people who go through Troop 194 and stick with it end up being an Eagle Scout.”

In the past three years, he said, listing off the names, were the two Gilbert brothers, James Boyer, Reed Burris, Ian Taylor, Thomas Wallace, Adam and Dylan Tomlinson and Matt and Austin Whitesell.

Gilbert’s project took several months of planning and design to create accurate reproductions of the long-disintegrated grave bases, Lehan said.

“These are accurate reproductions of the bases that originally held these fragile tablet markers,” she said.

For Gilbert, the end of the project is validation for the years spent working toward an Eagle badge.

“The most important thing for me I learned through scouting is leadership and dedication,” Gilbert said. “It teaches you to see something through to the very end, and it teaches important life lessons like how to get a group together and do something as arbitrary as making a base for a tombstone.”

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