The Sims Mausoleum at the Ocoee Cemetery

The Sims Vault, Ocoee, Cemetery.

When you pull into the gates of the Ocoee Cemetery this monument looks like a giant blue turtle resting in a very colorful landscape. I’ve never seen one like it, the entire thing is constructed of blue tiles and it’s completely solid without even an air vent to mar its rounded appearance. There was some slight damage to the back where a few tiles have fallen off, and as I took a closer look I noticed the small eyes of a brown lizard looking back at me. It was a good hiding spot.

Otis Sims was a dentist in Ocoee and Winter Garden for many years, and his young daughter died at age 19, his wife following her five years later. His wife is called Stella C. on her grave marker, but in several records she was listed as Cena, so research was a bit complicated and there didn’t seem to be much information about them. In one funeral record it lists the vault as being made of brick, so perhaps at some later date the blue tile was added. Either way, it’s fancy and impressive. Fun fact- in 1918 and 1923 the engraved plates that cover the graves cost the family 5 dollars; it cost more for the masons to install them than it did for the engraved plates themselves. The one at the top of the mausoleum was $3.50.

I had expected this cemetery to be an older place with no recent burials, but it was a vibrant, often visited and perfectly maintained place; it was quite beautiful. The graves seemed to be loaded with brightly colored flowers and mementos, and when you stood at the front and looked at the whole thing it was a landscape dotted with happy colors. According to the website there are no plots available, only places in the small, modern columbarium in the back of the property.

This is the oldest cemetery in Ocoee and has some beautiful stones and monuments, and also some tragic ones, including two mothers who are buried with their infants. Also, William Blakely, the jack-of-all-trades in this area from back in the day is buried here. His stone says that he was a pioneer, and indeed he was. In late 1800’s to early 1900’s he was the school principal, Postmaster, and Justice of the Peace for the city.  He’s under a huge oak tree in the back of the property and apparently he got one of the prettiest shady spots in the cemetery.

With that many jobs I’m sure death came as a much-needed break.

The green Virgin Mary statue.

The best source of information on this location is your own 2 feet and a good pair of tennis shoes, there’s not a whole lot online unless you’re looking for ghost stories. There are also quite a few handmade markers and inscriptions here which are always worth seeing. My favorite tribute was a Virgin Mary statue painted bright acid green, standing on a piece of astro-turf, and with a home-made metal cross behind her. Truly one of my favorite things I’ve ever seen in a cemetery.