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Gravestone restoration company works to save memories of loved ones

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KEARNEY, Mo. -- A local gravestone restoration company spent the day Tuesday fixing up many headstones at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Kearney in order to help families avoid finding their loved one’s headstones deteriorating or gone.

Stephen Palmer of Palmer Gravestone Restoration and Sales and his employees spent Tuesday restoring around 70 headstones, working to make sure that emotional moment never happens.

"Washed away, lost, gone and forgotten, just buried I guess you`d say," said Palmer as he describes the condition of headstones if no one was there to preserve them. "A lot of it has to do with old age, neglect, Mother Nature - she takes a toll on all these headstones; they`re broken, leaning, falling."

He says the rain, sleet, ice and snow damages them, and if they aren't taken care of visitors would be quite disappointed to what they would find or not find.

"It would hurt my feelings if I went out and couldn`t find one of my loved ones," said Palmer.

Gerri Spencer, a volunteer curator for the Kearney Historic Museum, says it's important to restore these headstones to keep some of the city's history intact.

"We have some notorious people in this cemetery. For example, we have Jesse James, and his wife, his twin boys, his mother, his stepfather and his half-brother," said Spencer. "We have a broad range of fascinating people in this cemetery and I would hate to see any of these headstones deteriorate or be lost."

Besides the well-known people, Spencer says to lose the marker of people buried in these cemeteries would be forgetting what they've done for the generations to come.

"There are some other war veterans in this cemetery, and they all have participated in building our community and bringing us to where we are today," Spencer said. "A family that lives here currently, in this cemetery you will find their aunts, their uncles, their grandparents."

"We`ve got to respect them and not lose the memory of them," said Palmer.

Palmer says most small cemeteries don't have big budgets for general maintenance.