Town pride motivates man to spruce up cemeteries

THE LANDSCAPING COMPETES with the headstone in the “before” photo of the Naples Village Cemetery. (Photo courtesy of Buzz Morton)

THE LANDSCAPING COMPETES with the headstone in the “before” photo of the Naples Village Cemetery. (Photo courtesy of Buzz Morton)

“I get a little bit emotional. It’s my town. I was born here. I am seeing the gravestones of people who are long forgotten and who were younger when they died than I am today.”

— Buzz Morton, Naples resident

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Philip “Buzz” Morton has spent more than 60 volunteer hours sprucing up the cemeteries in his hometown of Naples.

“I am doing this on my own because it needed to be done,” Morton said.

Earlier this summer, when Morton surveyed the conditions of the Edes Falls Cemetery and the Naples Village Cemetery, he saw a need. There were fallen branches from past storms plus tree limbs that jeopardized the headstones. Some of the shrubbery and small trees had branches that completely enveloped the headstones so that a person could not read the inscribed names.

While Morton cannot blame trees for growing, he found other issues in the cemetery appalling. A few headstones had been knocked over, and some tombstones had been nicked by a lawnmower, he said.

So, in the cool of the summer mornings, Morton removed errant branches and did what he could to tidy up the town’s graveyards. Morton brought with him saws and other landscaping tools to help with the removal of tree branches.

“I get a little bit emotional. It’s my town. I was born here,” Morton said.

THIS HEADSTONE can be seen now that the landscaping has been cut back at the Naples Village Cemetery. (Photo courtesy of Buzz Morton)

THIS HEADSTONE can be seen now that the landscaping has been cut back at the Naples Village Cemetery. (Photo courtesy of Buzz Morton)

“I am seeing the gravestones of people who are long forgotten and who were younger when they died than I am today,” he said.

“I started cleaning up trees and bushes at the Edes Falls Cemetery. From there, I moved to the Naples (Village) Cemetery to take out some of the growth that has been neglected for many years,” Morton said.

“I did not plan to spend all summer doing this but it turned into a major job. A lot of the gravestones were covered with bushes so that the inscriptions could not be seen. In addition, large trees have grown to unmanageable proportions,” he said.

On Friday, a crew from Q-Team volunteered their time to get rid of the 15-plus brush piles that Morton had stacked at the village cemetery.

The employees at Q-Team have “been very generous in donating their time to help me in my quest,” he said.

Q-Team helped wrap up brush removal at Edes Fall Cemetery and will finish removing brush piles at the village cemetery this week.

BRUSH PILE REMOVAL is done by Q-Team Tree Service on Friday. Naples resident Buzz Morton created the brush piles, after volunteering his time to cut back tree branches that had become overgrown in the Naples Village Cemetery. (Photo courtesy of Buzz Morton)

BRUSH PILE REMOVAL is done by Q-Team Tree Service on Friday. Naples resident Buzz Morton created the brush piles, after volunteering his time to cut back tree branches that had become overgrown in the Naples Village Cemetery. (Photo courtesy of Buzz Morton)

This month, Morton brought the issues of the cemeteries to the attention of the Naples Board of Selectmen. He stressed that two trees present a safety hazard. The trees need to be de-limbed because it is likely that when the branches fall they will either damage a headstone or hurt someone.

“It is known that taxpayers approve funds to take care of these issues each year, but it seems that they are lost in the woodwork,” Morton said.

During this endeavor to improve the town’s cemeteries, Morton realized he is not the only person who cares about the graveyards.

“People stop by and thank me for doing this work,” he said.

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