BERKELEY, MO (KTVI) - It is a horrendous case of abuse and neglect at a North County cemetery. Vandals disturbed the crumbling grave of a seven year old boy at the Washington Park Cemetery near Lambert Airport.
That's hardly the end of the story, as 90 years after he died, Adolphus Lewis, was once again laid to rest, Saturday.
This cemetery`s story is now so fittingly tied to young Mr. Lewis.
It felt as if his family was there mourning at the memorial and re-committal service; the tragedy fresh. The boy hit and killed by a car when most people had never seen a car.
"I think you can judge a society by the way they treat their dead," said Calvin Whitaker of the MO Funeral Directors Association.
Whitaker operates St. Louis Livery Service, which provides transportation services for funerals.
"He`s already passed at 7, then for someone to come out and disturb where he`s resting, it`s heartbreaking," said Erna French, who volunteered to sing at the service.
Volunteers discovered vandals had exposed his remains; going so far as to pose for photos with his corpse.
Within days, those volunteers "undid" that horror.
A new vault was donated; the remains buried in a new place; years of abuse and neglect, swept away.
Adolphus Lewis now has the most ornate and most prominent grave site in the cemetery.
"It`s time to give back to this cemetery and make it what it needs to be," Whitaker told the small group of volunteers and their families, gathered for the service.
Most of the cemetery`s 40 acres are so overgrown it can be hard to see the headstones.
But a new effort, called the "Adlophus Lewis Project", is changing that.
Volunteers have cleared 10 acres.
"People are kind of overwhelmed by it. But you`ve just got to take a little section at a time and work on that. We`re going to work through it," Whitaker said. "This was kind of a poor representation of the way we treat our dead. We`re just trying to make a bad situation better.
"I believe that somewhere his little spirit is really rejoicing that we would remember and think enough to even consider in these days and times that we would want him to have a beautiful rest," French said.
Young Mr. Lewis won`t be the only one resting in peace in the Washington Park Cemetery.
If you'd like to donate or volunteer , contact Calvin Whitaker, with the MO Funeral Directors Assocation at St. Louis Livery Service: 314-406-0518, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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