Scout restores centuries-old headstones

By Brandon Kathman
       Michigan Crossroads Council

A local scout is refurbishing the final resting places of Clarkston’s first families at Lakeview Cemetery, fulfilling his final requirement for the rank of Eagle Scout. 

“I chose this project because a love for history has always been a part of my life,” James LaZar, 17, said. 

LaZar’s efforts are part of a broader initiative to restore the 190-year-old graveyard. The Lakeview Cemetery Restoration Project is facilitated by the Daughters of the American Revolution and partners with many community stakeholders, according to project co-chair Joette Kunse.

“We want to see the stones restored because these are the early settlers of Clarkston,” Kunse said.

LaZar explained that his involvement began when he overheard Kunse telling his father about the initiative at a dinner event.

“As I listened, I knew this would be perfect for my Eagle Scout Project,” LaZar said. “I asked Joette if I could be in contact with her and choose this as my Eagle Project, and she happily agreed.”

Scouts from multiple units, including LaZar’s own Troop 189, participated in the cleaning phase of his project. The headstones scrubbed were among the oldest in the cemetery, with some predating the Civil War.

The cleaning process for each headstone began with scouring the edifice using only water and soft-bristle brushes. Once the outer layer of grime and lichen had been removed, each stone was doused with Wet & Forget, a multi-surface stain remover, and left to dry. This process was repeated twice for each marker.

“James chose an interesting beneficiary for his Eagle project,” Troop 189 Committee Chair Sherry Snudden said. “It’s really neat that his project will help sustain part of Clarkston’s history for years to come.”

According to LaZar, as clean as the stones appear now, they will only look better as time passes and the Wet & Forget does its job. Now that the intact stones look as good as new, LaZar will turn his attention to repairing the broken or damaged stones under the mentorship of the Carter Cemetery Preservation company.