Meet ‘The Good Cemeterian’ who spends his single day off cleaning forgotten vets’ tombstones

Andrew Lumish is a good man who wanted to show more respect for forgotten veterans so he goes to the cemetery and takes care of the old gravestones that have fallen in disarray. Andrew, “The Good Cemeterian” as people call him now, works hard to clean off the forgotten tombstones of veterans in the Tampa Bay area.

Andrew exercises the same vigor when it comes to cleaning tombstones as he does to run his business. He uses water to rinse the tombstones first. He then uses D/2, a chemical compound used for cleaning. He scrubs off years of dirt, mold, and decay.

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Walter L. Williams Jr. was born nearly 76 years ago on June 27th 1942 shortly after the start of the Second World War … Walter married his Wife Jo Ann and the couple went on to have 3 Sons… Walter served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War, enlisting on March 30th 1969… He was stationed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa Florida and ranked Staff Sergeant until he and 7 other Servicemen’s lives came to a tragic end…. S. Sergeant Walter L. Williams Jr. passed away on June 4th 1969… The tragedy made headlines throughout the state… The following is quoted from one article published on the front page of The Tampa Tribune on June 5th 1969: “8 M’Dill Airmen Die In Helicopter Crash By THOM WILKERSON Tribune Staff Writer Eight airmen were killed when their U.S. Air Force HH-43-B Huskie rescue helicopter’s twin rotor blades apped yesterday above an open field southeast of Tampa and dropped the craft to the ground in a shower of fire and smoke. There were no survivors. Names of the victims, all stationed at MacDill Air Force Base, were withheld by the Air Force last night pending notification of next of kin. ‘The top blades just went.’ Said S/Sgt. Dennis Surratt, 40, who witnessed the crash. Surratt, stationed at Avon Park Air Base, works part time at an egg farm near the crash scene, which is about 34 miles southeast of Tampa off Bledsoe Road and Balm Road, one mile west of State Road 39 and south of State Road 672. The helicopter was bound from Avon Park on its return to MacDill. The Air Force said a rescue helicopter goes to the Avon Park bombing range each morning for standby duty in case an aircraft crashes and returns to MacDill at night, The crash occurred shortly before p.m. ‘I’d stopped at the egg farm,’ Surratt recalled, ‘and I saw the chopper as it crossed from the highway (Balm Road), There was a thunderstorm coming in. The top blades just went and it dropped straight down.’ Surratt, near tears, estimated that the aircraft was about 200 feet above the ground when the blades separated from the body. Walter L. Williams Junior…. Veteran of the United States Army,, beloved Husband, and Father… Before & After….

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Andrew works for a carpet and upholstery cleaning business in Tampa, Florida. These images are one example of the many graves that Andrew has cleaned off when he gets a day off from work.

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Alabama native John Dudley Foxworth was born on October 2nd 1845 to Francis Green Foxworth and Jerusha Annitta Smith… John served the Confederate States Army in Company B, 38th Alabama Infantry Regiment, also known as “The Wilcox Farmers”…. Of the 830 men of his Regiment at the onset of War, Private Foxworth was one of the 80 who remained when the Unit surrendered 3 years later to Union forces during the closing days of the war… He received a wound from a shell on the left side just below his heart … The young soldier was taken to the hospital and remained a patient for 4 months… John married Virginia Hestle in Alabama September 5th 1866 … The couple had 5 children… John was issued a land grant from the Federal Government… The Foxworth family moved from Alabama to Tompkinsville, Florida… John cultivated oranges in order to provide for the family… On August 16th 1888, John and his eldest son Robert were struck by lightning…The strike was unfortunately fatal for Robert who was just 20 years old at the time…. John Dudley Foxworth passed away at his home December 18th 1907… The following is quoted from John’s obituary which was published in the Tampa Tribune December 18th 1907: "J.D. Foxworth, at 7:15 this morning died at his home, North Jefferson St., having been confined to his bed since Friday suffering with a paralytic stroke…Mr. Foxworth was a carpenter, a member of the local union, and a devoted member of the Methodist Church. The funeral will be held at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow from the residence, Rev. L.W. Moore officiating. Internment in Woodlawn Cemetery.” John Dudley Foxworth…Veteran of the Confederate States Army during the Civil War, beloved Father & Husband… Before & After… #veteran #army #military #tampa #tampabay #bayarea #florida #history #historic #alabama #civilwar #soldier #confederatestatesarmy #confederate #restoration #remembrance #cemetery #monument #tombstone #gravestone #graveyard_life #family #father #husband #photography

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Stones that are used for tombstones can absorb and hold onto large amounts of moisture during and after storms, causing algae and moss to grow. But after Andrew is done with them, they glow brightly in the night, making the cemetery look like it is daytime.

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New Jersey native William Thomas Gibson was born more than 189 years ago on June 28th 1828… When William was born, John Quincy Adams occupied the Oval Office and served as the sixth President of the United States… ☆ Interesting events that occurred in Mr. Gibson's birth year of 1828 included.. ▪ On January 8th 1828 the Democratic party is established for the first time… ▪ On December 3rd 1828 after a vicious presidential election Andrew Jackson defeats John Quincy Adams to become the seventh President of the United States… ▪ Just 19 days after his election as President, Andrew Jackson's wife Rachel suddenly dies… It is said that the nastiness of the campaign caused her to fall into a deep depression and that she had no desire to be First Lady… For the rest of Jackson's life he blamed his political opponents for her death… William marred his Wife, Anna Marie McCreight Gibson in Louisiana on February 12th 1859… The couple had 5 children before moving from Louisiana to Florida… They had their 6th child, Fanny (Fanny was also the name of their former young servant) while they lived in Florida… William worked as an Accountant to provide for the family… William Thomas Gibson passed away 125 years ago on June 22nd 1892- William Thomas Gibson… Beloved Father and Husband… Before & After… #cemetery #gravestone #tombstone #newjersey #louisiana #graveyard_life #restoration #america #american #father #husband #historic #history #tampa #tampabay #bayarea #florida #south #photography #picoftheday #monument #restoration

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This is a tombstone from the late 1800s that you couldn’t even read before Andrew got to it. It used to be nearly pitch-black and now it is as clean as if it was brand new – even though it is well over 100 years old!

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Genevieve Garnett Welling was born nearly 166 years ago on July 16th 1852 to James Clarke Welling & Genevieve Hamilton Garnett … ☆▪☆▪☆▪☆▪☆▪☆▪☆ • Genevieve's Father, James Clarke Welling was the President of Columbian University (Now George Washington University, Washington, DC) from 1871 to 1894) & was a cofounder of the National Geographic Society… During the Civil War, her Father wrote for the National Intelligencer…. James Welling was a professor at Princeton University and in 1871 he accepted the Presidency of Columbian College. Genevieve married Francis Halsey Wigfall in Washington DC on September 8th 1881… ** Francis served the Confederate States Army during the Civil War as 2nd Lieutenant, Stark's Battalion, Confederate Light Artillery (Battalion B. 1st Corps Artillery, Army of Northern Virginia)… Although Genevieve was fortunate in many ways, she mourned the loss of her Husband & battled Bright’s Disease… She traveled from Maryland to Tampa, Florida with friends for her health… Genevieve Welling Wigfall passed away 118 years ago on January 3rd 1900… The following was quoted from Genevieve’s Death Notice published in The Tampa Tribune on January 7th 1900: “SAD DEATH OF A VISITOR. Mrs. Genevieve Welling Wigfall, a Lady of Rare Accomplishments. Mrs. Genevieve Welling Wigfall died at the Hotel Arno on Wednesday, January 3rd. She was the widow of Francis Halsey Wigfall, of Baltimore, Md., who was American consul at Leeds England, from 1888 to 1892 and the daughter of the late James C. Welling, president of Columbia university, Washington, D. C. In Washington, Leeds, and Baltimore, where her home had been made successively, she leaves a large circle of devoted friends. Mrs. Wigfall came to Florida in company with a party of friends intending to pass the winter here for the benefit of her health. Her malady—Bright’s disease—gained rapidly upon her, and her death occurred just a month after her arrival. The funeral services over her remains were held at her cottage at the Arno Friday, by the Rev. Dr. DeHart, rector of St. Andrew’s church. The interment was at Oaklawn cemetery. Genevieve Welling Wigfall… Beloved Wife Before & After.

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Andrew has actually studied the proper way to clean off gravestones. He uses the same exact chemicals and techniques that every United States national cemetery does when they clean their tombstones. He says that it may take three months to completely restore a gravestone.

Andrew heads to the cemeteries with his wife who is there to support and help him anyway that he needs. Andrew also posts before and after pictures of his work on his Facebook page, gaining him a large number of followers who praise him for his work.

Andrew always provides a brief description of the person whose tombstone he has restored. He researches the person to learn more about their life and death in order to honor them even years later.

Andrew does not have any connection to any of the people whose graves he has restored. He only knows what he does thorough research. He has spent more than five years working on this endeavor with no plans to stop. He does not want any of these men or women to be forgotten.

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Florida native Henry Chestnutt Holmes Jr. was born on November 12th 1920 to Henry Chestnutt Holmes Sr. and Almeria Lykes Turmen Holmes… His father, Henry Sr. served as Ensign in the United States Navy during World War I… ☆ Interesting events that occurred in Mr. Holmes birth year of 1920 included… ▪On January 6th, 1920 Babe Ruth's trade from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees is made public… ▪On January, 16th 1920 Prohibition in the United States begins with the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution coming to fruition… ▪On May 2nd, 1920 the first game of Negro National League baseball is played inIndianapolis, Indiana… ▪On September 16th, 1920 a bomb in a horse wagon explodes on Wall Street in front of the J. P. Morgan building in New York City – 38 people are killed and 400 injured… ▪On November 2nd, 1920 Republican Senator Warren G. Harding defeats Democratic Governor of Ohio James M. Cox in the U.S. Presidential election… It is the first National election in which women have the right to vote… ☆▪☆▪☆▪☆▪☆▪☆▪☆ According to Henry’s Funeral Notice published in The Tampa Tibune, “Henry graduated from Plant High School and attended McCollie Military Academy at Chatanooga, Tennessee and Venderbilt University. He was a member of St. Andrew’s Church, The Merrymakers Club and the Boston Club of New Orleans.” Mr. Holmes was a B-17 pilot during World War II… He was shot down on his 26th mission and was in a German prison camp for a year… Henry Chestnutt Holmes passed away at the age of 29 on July 3rd 1950 after a long illness… His funeral service was held the following day on July 4th… ☆▪☆▪☆▪☆▪☆▪☆▪☆ Henry Chestnutt Holmes Junior…Beloved Son, American Hero… Before & After…

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The Department of Veteran Affairs honored Andrew for his work. Not only have they acknowledged and appreciated his service, so have many of the families of the deceased. Andrew receives regular calls from families who cannot maintain their loved one’s gravestones and appreciate everything Andrew is doing for them.

Andrew is very proud that he has the ability to clean and restore the tombstones of fallen veterans. He wishes that his work will spread awareness for those who may have been forgotten. He is a true inspiration to all of us and we continue to applaud his amazing work!

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