Volunteers clean cemetery; remember family, friends (PHOTOS)

Cemetery Cleanup 2013

Neal Twitty, 9, his sister Hannah, 7, and their cousin Bryce Wooten, center, 11, clean up the grave of their grandfather and great-grandfather, respectively, at Almarante Cemetery during last year's cleanup.

BRIAN HUGHES / News Bulletin
Published: Monday, October 7, 2013 at 07:10 PM.

LAUREL HILL — About a dozen people turned out Saturday morning for the annual Almarante Cemetery clean-up day. They cleaned grave markers, raked leaves, picked up sticks, pulled weeds and shrubbery, and cut down dead trees, all while reminiscing about the family and friends at rest around them.

The Rev. Mike McVay and Mike Kerwin spent the morning marking rows for future plots to help keep the cemetery's slow northwest expansion orderly. "Up there, they just put plots anywhere and didn't line them up," McVay said, indicating a section where plots were set at rakish angles, not aligned with one another and encroached on neighboring plots.

See a gallery of clean-up day at Almarante Cemetery in Laurel Hill>>

Nearby, Neal Twitty, 9, his sister Hannah, 7, and their cousin, Bryce Wooten, 11, swept gravel and leaves off flat family grave markers as their grandmother and aunt, Janet Twitty, put fresh floral arrangements in urns. "He was my great grandpa!" Neal said as he swept former Laurel Hill Mayor Morris Rogers' grave.

The graves of another north county mayor, Cortez Steele, and his wife Eunice received equally tender care from their grandson, Joe Steele. "He owned Cortez Steele and Sons," Joe Steele said. "And he made it 'and Grandson' because I was pumping gas there as soon as I learned my numbers."

The former gas station is now the Laurel Hill Grill, from which cemetery commission chairwoman Tracy Curenton and her family members purchased chicken tenders and hamburgers for lunch.

They picnicked in the shade of a towering magnolia among the now-tidied resting places of generations of residents dating back as early as the 1700s.

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