Headstone restoration for veterans

Mark Timbrook is looking for a few good men and women to help restore the headstones of veterans in Rosehill Memorial Park.

Timbrook, a history instructor at Minot State University, is coordinating the volunteer effort in honor of Minot State’s Power of 100 project. In celebration of its 100th anniversary this year, MSU is asking friends and alumni to organize volunteer projects in their communities. They hope to have 100 or more Power of 100 volunteer projects.

“My wife and I thought with our cemetery training it might be nice to find a way to give some support back to the veteran community,” said Timbrook. He and his wife, Eunice Timbrook, are both Air Force veterans. Timbrook has in the past taught a class on cemetery preservation.

Timbrook said they looked around and saw that Section 12 at Rosehill cemetery has more than 170 veterans of different wars buried there, but that some of the upright headstones are in poor shape.

“The effort will be to go up there and clean as many as we can,” said Timbrook.

He said he and his wife will train the volunteers in how to clean the headstones, using a solvent approved by the National Center for Preservation Training and Technology. Timbrook said there is a National Park Service-approved procedure for cleaning veterans’ headstones that they will be using.

Volunteers should be physically capable of bending down to the level of the tombstone and have enough strength in their arms to clean them vigorously. They should wear work clothing and come with bug spray. The Timbrooks will provide the brushes and cleaning materials.

The first clean-up session was held Tuesday. Volunteers Heidi Benavides, Merri Jo Connole, Niki Roed and others tackled veterans’ headstones with toothbrushes and the cleaning solvent, rinsing them off afterwards with hoses.

“Now you can see the name!” said one of the volunteers after one headstone was scrubbed clean, restoring it to a white gleam.

Timbrook said another session will be held sometime after July 15, but he does plan to organize more this summer. People who are interested in volunteering should call Timbrook at 240-6184 for more information about future planned headstone cleanings.