Cemetery Monument Repairs

by Ron Graham

I started working regularly at Pine Ridge Cemetery, an abandoned, historic cemetery in Bay City, Michigan in 2009. For several years, I concentrated on mowing and clearing out scrub growth (clusters of hawthorn with up to 1 ½” thorns). I reached a point where things looked better with the grass and trees. That’s when I began working on monuments that needed to be raised, straightened, or stood up.

In 2015, two things happened that changed my direction. First, I started to get help with the mowing, which allowed me more time to work on the damaged monuments. Second, I started probing the ground and found several tall obelisks (up to 81″), two of which were broken in two.

cemetery monument repairs

Toppled headstones in the cemetery in need of repair.

Cemetery Monument Repairs with Six10 Epoxy

I began searching for a way to repair the breaks and found WEST SYSTEM Six10 Thickened Epoxy Adhesive. Before trying it, I talked to Gougeon Technical Service and confirmed that it would be appropriate for cemetery monument repairs. After my first couple of repairs, I was satisfied.

While I was working one day, a man was looking around the cemetery. I asked if he could use some help finding a grave and he said yes. As it turned out the man was one of the founders of Gougeon Brothers, Joel Gougeon, and he was looking for a Civil War veteran who was his great-great-grandfather. I showed him the gentleman’s monument and asked if he’d like to see what I had accomplished with the Six10. He took some pictures of the repair I showed him and asked me to go with him to meet his brother Meade Gougeon, which I did.

From then to the present, Gougeon Brothers, Inc. has supplied the epoxy which I have used to repair approximately ninety headstones. I’m not finished repairing all the monuments; however, I’m nearing the end of this large cemetery which was abandoned in 1931. It’s looking quite good. But when I stick the probe into the ground I never know what I will discover that needs repair next.

Assembly and Instruction

When assembling the stone pieces, I lay them out and mark the points of contact. The next step is a good cleaning, including wire brushing to eliminate any loose or soft surface material. Next, I use acetone to clean all surfaces to be epoxied. When all is ready, I apply Six10 in a ring on one surface. Then I seat the pieces together and clamp them. This squeezes the epoxy into all of the cavities. I also use Six10 to bridge gaps as needed for strength.

To finish the project, I make what I call fake marble by mixing pulverized marble with WEST SYSTEM 105 Resin and 206 Slow Hardener. This makes a thick paste which I use to fill all holes, gaps, and grooves to match the surface. To match the color, I add WEST SYSTEM 501 White Pigment.

When I started this project I was working alone, but now we have a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization called Friends of Pine Ridge Cemetery.

cemetery monuments repaired

The headstones repaired and reinstalled.