Preserving Our History, Preserving Our Heritage
Historic Hillcrest Cemetery is a planned African America cemetery located at 1905 Garner Road in Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina.
The Lightner Funeral Home was started in 1908 by Calvin E. Lightner and Rayford H. Lightner and received its charter in 1911.
The Lightners purchased 60 acres on Garner Rd. The parcel was known as the Lightner Farm. The cemetery was situated on 3.09 acres of this tract and burials date from circa 1920 to the present.
The Lightners allowed other black funeral directors to use the cemetery for their burials as well.
Lawrence E. Lightner, son of Calvin E. Lightner and his wife Anna Roberta Lightner sold the Garner Rd. tract (minus Hillcrest Cemetery) and the remaining 57 acres became Rochester Heights subdivision.
No other Raleigh cemeteries have been identified that were developed, owned and operated by African Americans.
Hillcrest Cemetery is the burial place for locally prominent African Americans such as William Lawrence Greene who received his Master’s Degree from Cornell University in 1929 and was the Executive Director of the North Carolina Teachers Association.
In 1974, his son, George Royster Greene became the first black Judge ever elected in Wake County. He served 14 years as a District Court Judge and 6 years as a Superior Court Judge with statewide jurisdiction.
Other prominent African Americans buried here include Willie Dean “Pat” White, All American athlete and 15 veterans who served in WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
We solicit funds from the larger community to achieve these goals. Anyone who makes a donation is listed as a Friend. Also Friends are welcome to provide sweat equity and actively volunteer and work in the cemetery on clean up days.
The Board of Directors is the governing body and we welcome input from Friends. However the final decision on all matters rests with the board.
Officers are: Ruby P. Greene, chairman; William Foster, vice chairman; Nina Weldon, recording secretary, Druscilla Dunn, assistant recording secretary; Emma Dorrsett, treasurer; Sandra Pierce, financial secretary;
Mother Joyce Cunningham, chaplain.