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Guardian of the forgotten

Local Bobbie Butler initiates renovations in paupers’

      Six years ago, Bobbie Butler started on a mission to give paupers in Statesboro’s Eastside Cemetery a respectable place to lie.
    Butler first noticed the gravesites when her daughter told her there was a pet cemetery in the back of Eastside. After a closer look, she discovered that it was not a pet cemetery but a rundown, rotten section that was uncared for. Her discovery, she said, broke her heart and set her into action. Butler wanted to give the people a better final resting place.
    “When I first started (the project) was nothing,” she said. “There were rotten crosses, the chains had fallen down, and it looked as though no one cared about it. These people are someone’s family. They belong to someone but are not looked after. It is so sad.
    “I asked people to donate things such as marking posts, markers, engraving and such, but I never once asked for money.”
      Businesses all over town donated items to use for the cemetery. New PVC posts were put up with new chain. Crosses were put at each grave that did not have a headstone and were engraved with names or “Unknown.” Small angels sit on the headstone markers. The area was blocked off as a rectangle and a cement bench sits in a corner.
    For Christmas, Butler put a red bow on top of each post and a sign that reads “In Memory of the Known and Unknown – Hang an ornament, place a flower or just visit. God will bless you!” marks the entrance. Small Christmas trees were set up in the front of the gravesites and each was adorned with ornaments.
    Marie Dixon, who works at the cemetery, said “She (Butler) works so hard out there. She decorates and cleans. The other day, she scrubbed the posts until her fingers bled. She is really dedicated to the paupers’ section.”
    Butler had a thing or two to say about Marie Dixon as well. “Marie Dixon has been very supportive of my work here. She has given me money on two occasions to help with the work. She brought a Christmas tree to put up, and she comes by to check on it. She and the city rake it for me, and she as been a real help.”
    Butler said renovating is now done. The gravesites just need to be maintained. She said: “It doesn’t take much time really, it just is not much fun when you’re by yourself working out here.”
    The paupers’ gravesite can be found in the back left-hand corner of Eastside Cemetery. Butler said all are welcome to help maintain or decorate the area.
    For more information on how to help, Butler can be reached at (912) 839-3710.

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