The devastating derecho straight-line wind storm that shredded Perry’s canopy and flattened Perry’s crops three weeks ago also knocked some 400 headstones off their bases in Violet Hill Cemetery, as the falling trees struck the memorials.
in a heartfelt gesture of neighborly compassion, a four-person work crew from the Kallin-Johnson Monument Co. of Fort Dodge came to Violet Hill Friday and spent the day righting the toppled tombstones, and they volunteered their labors without charge to the city or the families of the beloved dead.
“They’re doing it all for free,” said Violet Hill Sexton Richie Steadman. “They’re even replacing some bases that got broke, and all we have to pay for is shipping. They said they just wanted to help the city out since they’ve set so many stones out here. All the stones out here aren’t theirs, but a lot of them are.”
As the haulers from Elder Corp. continued to remove the large and shattered trees from the cemetery grounds, the two trucks from Kallin-Johnson arrived about 8 a.m. and set to work righting the headstones. Violet Hill Cemetery contains about 23,000 tombstones.
“About 400 stones are down,” Steadman said. “That’s just the ones we know about. It’s going to take them some time because we’re talking some big rocks.”
John McLoughlin of Fort Dodge said he has worked for Kallin-Johnson since 1979. Headquartered in Fort Dodge, the company has nine locations in Iowa and works all over the Midwest, McLoughlin said.
McLoughlin and Ryan Bachman of Fort Dodge then set to work, lifting the fallen slabs with a truck-mounted crane and attaching them upright to their bases by using a granite epoxy.
Friday’s temperatures were more comfortable than earlier in the week, and the crew worked steadily, starting on the east side of Violet Hill.
With the large tree debris removed, Violet Hill Cemetery is now open to the public, Steadman said.