PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A family has had it with vandals at a Portsmouth cemetery. They’ve now opted to relocate a memorial after it was damaged for the third time.
For 20 years, the Farmer family enjoyed a bench they dedicated to their late father in Friendship Gardens. Early Monday morning, the Farmers had the bench removed from Olive Branch cemetery after its brass plaque was stolen along with all the others in the park.
The bench was also used as a grill and damaged with graffiti. The Farmers couldn’t bear to see their father’s memory desecrated any longer.
Two concrete slabs are all that remain of a family memorial. A spot that once brought pride and honor to the Farmer family after losing their father in 1998. The Coast Guard veteran’s ashes were buried at sea. In 2000, the bench was built as a permanent way to honor his memory. 22 years the memorial stood, defiled and defaced, until this past Monday.
“What chance does this little bench have,” asked Jeanne Farmer Swain when we first spoke.
The bench will now have a new home at the Coast Guard base in Portsmouth, where it will be restored to its former glory and respected.
“I just don’t know what the answers are. I don’t know what can be done to stop the vandalism,” Swain stated.
A city spokesperson told 10 On Your Side Portsmouth police have stepped up overnight patrols in and around Olive Branch cemetery. They’ve also hired an overnight security guard and are working to install surveillance cameras throughout the park. We asked how many cameras will be installed and when. We were told they can’t release that information.
We also asked if the plaques will be replaced on the remaining memorial benches. We did not receive a response.