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Frank Mortimer Honored with Headstone: Celebration of Life May 15th with Mayor Hibberd

There will be a celebration of life for Frank Mortimer on May 15th, 2021 at 11am at Hillcrest Cemetery in Weiser, Idaho.  Present will be Mayor Randy Hibberd who will give a speech and flowers will be placed on the new headstone of Frank Mortimer.

Headstone being properly set in cement

Frank Mortimer was born February 6th, 1875 and passed away in 1957, his ashes buried next to his beloved wife without a headstone.  For decades, this well-known Weiserite had a simple metal plate marking his final resting place.  It was brought to the attention of the Snake River Heritage Center / Weiser Museum that Frank only had a metal plate as a marker, thus the mission began to raise the funds to honor his life with a proper headstone.

It only took 3 weeks to exceed the goal!  Members of the community rallied to raise enough money to clean Frank’s wife, Helene’s, headstone and also purchase one for Frank.  Lisa McKnight shared in the museum newsletter, “We thank you all so much. Our breath was taken away by your generosity.”

Helene Mortimer’s headstone prior to being cleaned and restored

For those who do not know a lot about who Frank Mortimer was, here is a brief overview of why honoring him with a headstone is so important to so many people in our community.  Frank had an interesting life!  He began a life as a traveling carnival performer until he came to Weiser at about 1905.  He liked it here so much that he decided to make it his home for over 50 years.  In about 1919, he purchased the Weiser Newsstand which he ran until he sold it in 1940.  His wife, Helene, kept a scrapbook of many performances and adventures of their young lives.  The museum has this scrapbook, Lisa McKnight shared with us.

Frank Mortimer metal plate marking his grave next to his wife’s headstone

In 1916, Frank and his wife established the Oregon Trail Park which was on an island not far from the train depot.  It is here where they planted trees, built a stage and other buildings to create an amusement park!  The park also had the largest merry-go-round in the Northwest.  The park attracted large crowds of up to 10,000 people around celebrations like the 4th of July.  Known by locals as “Mortimer’s Island,” the park was open and very successful until 1933 when the depression hit the economy.  In 1952, Mortimer’s Island was willed to the city of Weiser where many of the same trees planted by the Mortimer’s are still there.  The city’s filtration plant is now at this location. 

“I think Frank Mortimer deserves to be honored,” McKnight commented.  The Weiser community was so generous in helping raise the funds to complete this project.  People are welcome to visit the cemetery for the celebration of life on May 15th at 11am. 

Finished headstone

For more information, photos, and stories on Frank Mortimer, visit the Snake River Heritage Center / Weiser Museum.  Tours can be scheduled.

(Thank you to Lisa McKnight for all the great information and “before” photos)

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