PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Mowing, weed eating, cutting down low limbs, and one woman even using a machete to cut away the thick overgrowth around a headstone was the scene at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Portsmouth Saturday morning as dozens of people worked to clean it up.
The masterminds behind this community cemetery cleaning were Don Garces and William Richardson.
They both have loved ones buried here.
“It was a disaster it was disrespectful the way this cemetery looked no one’s loved one should have to be in a cemetery that looks like this,” said Garces.
In search of help, they took to Facebook to spread the word, and they had quite the turnout, starting early Saturday morning.
“We have a few people from out of town, from other cities, we have a lot of people that just said okay look I’m tired of seeing it too,” said Richardson.
Portsmouth resident, Teresa Washington’s mother is buried here, so when she caught wind of what was going on, she didn’t think twice.
“I come out here often to clean her grave, but the rest of the place looks bad, so I have no problem with dedicating my time,” explained Washington.
The owner of E. Vaughn Wray Funeral Establishment, Eric Wray, says it’s his job to take care of it after acquiring the cemetery earlier this year.
Over the phone, he told 10 On Your Side it’s been difficult to find someone to maintain the cemetery in his price range so he’s been on the hunt for a landscaper and has been working to get state funding to fix the broken headstones.
Wray says Portsmouth is home. He says it didn’t take it on to be a slumlord but that it’s going to take some time.
Richardson says, the community took care of it this time, but this has to change.
“We took it in our hands to say okay save your money we are going to come out here and take care of our loved ones right now, but you need to get something in place,” said Richardson.
Wray says he is hopeful it won’t get this bad again.