AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – More than 30 tombstones that belong to some of the CSRA’s veterans remain unclaimed at the Richmond County Coroner’s Office. They were first discovered two years ago at the abandoned Dents Funeral Home.
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“You had to have been honorably discharged in order to receive a headstone,” said Historic Preservation Advocate Joyce Law.
She is back at it with Richmond County Coroner Mark Bowen. The two are working to reunite families with their loved ones’ misplaced grave markers.
“I was really drawn to the project because my great uncle was among those that were listed, so I became not just a helping professional, but a stakeholder,” she told NewsChannel 6.
There are 36 tombstones left unclaimed. And Bowen said that’s out of 115 discovered back in 2019 at Dent’s Funeral Home. All were initially provided by the Veterans Administration.
“We’re still looking, trying to find the families or cemeteries that have these veterans in them to place markers if we can, but it’s not moving as fast as we’d like,” the coroner told us.
“A cemetery that is very active, there is less than a problem,” Law described. A cemetery that is very inactive that doesn’t have up to date registration books, then that is extremely difficult.”
Tons of research has already taken place with the help of Law, but the pandemic and issues such as churches being closed impacted potential connections. But the duo is still depending on people in the community to talk and help locate loved ones of the vets, many who served in World War I and World War II.
“If you were a minister or a pallbearer or a friend of the family who was at the funeral, you might know where that veteran was placed,” Law said.
She added veterans with a private tombstone can still have their military one placed next to it.
And if families claim a marker, but are unsure where the vet’s final resting place is, Bowen and Law can help locate them. Until then, the grave markers are housed at the coroner’s office, where Bowen said he takes pleasure in seeing families connect with a piece of the past.
“Having all the closure helps you move on. Having half the closure, you have to work a lot harder,” he said.
Bowen and Law hope to have all the markers with family members by Veterans Day this year.
Here is the complete list of unclaimed markers: