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Heritage Memorials restores all toppled gravestones in Wolfville cemetery

From left: Willowbank manager Chris Fuller stands with Heritage Memorials crew members Andrew Benedict, Chip Peterson and Donnie Nelson, who worked Dec. 1 to restore each gravestone. Not pictured: Jeff Nelson also helped restore the stones.
From left: Willowbank manager Chris Fuller stands with Heritage Memorials crew members Andrew Benedict, Chip Peterson and Donnie Nelson, who worked Dec. 1 to restore each gravestone. Not pictured: Jeff Nelson also helped restore the stones. - Sara Ericsson

Services donated free of charge by business

WOLFVILLE, NS – A business has saved the day at Willowbank Cemetery by donating their time and services to restore the gravestones that were toppled in November.

Heritage Memorials contacted the Wolfville cemetery’s manager Chris Fuller this week to tell him of their plans to restore the monuments Dec. 1.

He fell speechless as he listened, and felt a huge sense of relief.

“There are no words, and this time in a good way. These guys have saved us, and I’m beyond grateful,” he said.

 

A renewed sense of optimism

Andrew Benedict, Chip Peterson, Donnie Nelson and Jeff Nelson arrived at the cemetery at 8:30 and finished restoring every stone by 2:30 p.m.

A glue made specifically to secure granite stones was applied to the headstones’ bases, and a mini excavator with a belt was used to lift the heavier stones and place them back onto their bases.

 

The glue securing the gravestones to their bases is visible here, as it dries. Made specially for granite, it will ensure they aren’t toppled again.
The glue securing the gravestones to their bases is visible here, as it dries. Made specially for granite, it will ensure they aren’t toppled again.

 

“It feels great to be here, fixing these. This glue will hold for a very long time,” said Peterson.

Heritage Memorials owner Steve Nelson said one of the reasons his company came forward to donate their services was after the community rallying to get people together to get the stones standing.

He felt using the company’s equipment and employees would make it a safer process and ensure no one got hurt.

Another reason was because he was struck by how senseless this case of vandalism was. He and his staff feel great now that the stones are all standing once again.

“We understand what monuments mean to people – they’re more than just stone. When they’re down, we understand that emotional response everyone has, and it was important to us to take care of that,” said Nelson.

 

Still a surreal feeling

When the 21 gravestones stones were found pushed over Nov. 23, Fuller didn’t know how he’d go about finding a solution to getting them repaired.

 

The row of gravestones that were previously all knocked over is now standing once again, with red flags indicating they’re fixed.
The row of gravestones that were previously all knocked over is now standing once again, with red flags indicating they’re fixed.

 

Now, he no longer has to worry.

Fuller bought the men coffees and snacks from town as a small gesture of thanks while they were working, and continued expressing his thanks for their work.

“I still just can’t believe this is happening,” said Fuller.

The community was quick to rally around the cemetery, with several people from heritage societies and other organizations contacting Fuller with fundraising ideas.

What began as a devastating story has ended quite happily, and Fuller is glad it’s come to a close.

“Now people don’t have to worry about their relatives’ graves anymore. All is well again, and I’m damn happy,” he said.

 

See also: Twenty-one headstones also toppled 20 years ago at Wolfville cemetery

VIDEO: Community reacts to Willowbank Cemetery vandalism

More than 20 gravestone pillars found toppled at Wolfville cemetery

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