Local News

Company Volunteers To Repair Damage To Smithfield Cemetery

Posted March 16, 2006 7:33 a.m. EST

— A cemetery was trashed last week in Smithfield, with nearly 50 gravestones knocked over and defaced. The cost to fix the damage was estimated at $4,000. The town was ready step in to pay for repairs, but a company has now done the work for free.

On Thursday, workers tried to upright dozens of stones, hoping to give hurting families a much-needed lift. One of those affected was Evelyn Allen, whose husband and daughter were buried there.

"I was absolutely devastated," said Allen. "They didn't do much damage to my daughter's, but they did do right much damage to my husband's."

The vandals broke two large marble urns on his grave. They overturned stones and shattered pieces at about 50 gravesites in all.

"It's a lot of damage," said repairman Martin Harington. "Some expensive repair work, probably."

The town of Smithfield found out it was going to cost more than $4,000 just to fix all the stones in Sunset Cemetery. But when John Conway, the owner of a Greenville-based marble company, found out about the vandalism, he offered to send his crews out to fix them for free.

Conway donated all the supplies and manpower. He didn't try to take any credit, but told WRAL by phone he just wanted to help make things right.

"We're going to try to take care of everything today," said Harington. "There are a few things that will have to be replaced."

That's a big relief for Allen. Her family actually donated the cemetery to the town more than 20 years ago.

"They will never be praised enough for what they're doing and for all these people," said Allen. "This touches a lot of lives here in this town."

Town leaders are considering add more lights and security to the cemetery to keep the newly repaired stones safe.