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The Graveyard Cleaner: Doris Floyd

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When most of us think of graveyards, we think of heartache, mortality, or a setting for a good scary story. We mostly avoid cemeteries like literal plagues, only going in when someone we knew has departed this earth. However, there is someone here in Webster County that is doing the opposite. Rather than avoid it, they barrel towards it and have even been volunteering their time, money, and other resources to beautify graves long forgotten. That person is Doris Floyd. 

Floyd has always had an interest in history. That interest led her to find out exciting things about Webster County. Such as the Cyclone of 1880, the Typhoid epidemic, the Spanish Flu pandemic, and the time crunch the railroad company had to complete the tracks. These are just some of the stories that Floyd loves to find. "There is so much history here," Floyd says, "I'm always always always digging things out; I hear something, I'm on it because I think it is so interesting."

In fact, her interest in history lead her down an odd and noble path. Back in 2011, Floyd lost several family members in rapid succession. She lost her son, husband, mom, and two of her best friends. A loss like that is not easy to cope with, yet Floyd found a way and recalls how it all started.

"When I started I was at Good Hope (Cemetery). My husband is buried out there, so I would be out there and it was bad", explained Floyd regarding the appearance of the cemetery's headstones. "The stones were never cleaned. There was a long stone covered in lichen, and I asked myself 'I wonder who you are?' So I had a bottle of water and wet that lichen down and it started coming off."

From there, Floyd started researching how to clean and care for these older headstones.

"I went up and talked to Kevin over at Marshfield Lumber; he made some calls …. That is where I go for my supplies". 

It turns out cleaning older headstones is pretty straightforward. According to Floyd, all that is needed is water, a Wet & Forget mixture, a bristle brush, a blade, and a crochet needle. 

Floyd explained her process "What you do is use your spray, brush the mixture in good, then leave it."

Floyd continues, "The elements, Wet & Forget, the sun, rain, and wind are all you need to make the product work" for the moss and dirt that gets on the headstones. For the lichen, "You use water, a blade, and a crochet needle. The crochet needle you can use to clean all the lettering out."

Floyd has been doing this now for three years, primarily by herself. She uses her time, money, and energy in five cemeteries across Webster County. Unfortunately, she has found some graves where the stone is too damaged or, in some cases, not adequately marked. 

Floyd hopes, "With the damaged stones here, if we could make a small monument for them, and the ones that are not marked, if we can find out whose there we can get a stone for them. That is my dream is get a stone on some of them. It would be good undertaking". 

People around the county have noticed Floyd's work. Some people request her service while other folks are learning from her and volunteer from time to time. She has thought about getting some community service workers involved too. But for now, Floyd does not seem to mind working by herself, "Its therapy for me."

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