‘I had a purpose – and it felt wonderful’

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89-year-old Marjorie Brown cleans 247 graves and 69 plots in Live Oak Cemetery during pandemic.

By CINDY CROSBY

cindyc4@yahoo.com

When COVID-19 forced statewide shut-downs back in mid-March, many people found themselves isolated or social-distanced from family, friends and co-workers. This alone took a toll on people of all ages — but especially the elderly.

But that was not the case for a determined 89-year-old Marjorie Brown, who is a life-long Colleton County resident.

Brown undertook a project that most would run from faster than the virus itself.

Armed with a rake, hoe, hand saw, broom and her trusty sling blade, Brown took it upon herself to clean 247 graves and 69 plots at Live Oak Cemetery in Walterboro. Yes, you read that right.

“I knew I couldn’t stay home and just go stir-crazy,” said Brown, who remains incredibly humble about her effort. “I knew I would be safe, and it needed to be done. I have always loved doing for others. This was my way of giving back. I felt like God inspired and gave me the strength each day. I had a purpose — and it felt wonderful.”

Brown, who worked for the United States Postal Service for 24 years including 14 as the postmaster in Green Pond, began her clean-up with the Hickman-Bennett plot, then just kept going.

“I would look around and see the graves, some dating back to the 1800s, and think possibly they didn’t have anyone to look after them anymore,” said Brown. “I hated seeing so many that needed attending. I found joy in doing this for many reasons. During my efforts, I exposed flat monuments under all the growth and leaves that were covered. I found a loved one’s grave who I did not know was buried in Live Oak, along with an uncle, an aunt, cousins and some friend’s graves. I even found teachers that taught me in the 12th grade at Walterboro High School. There is so much history there.”

Many days, Brown worked 3-5 hours, dragging the rubbish and underbrush to the edge of the road that winds through the cemetery. “If you like to work in your garden or yard, then you’d enjoy this,” she said. “Just be sure to place the big piles near the road and not against the trees so the machines can pick it up. It is very pleasant and peaceful working under the oaks, but be sure to bring drinking water.”

Brown hopes her story will inspire others to do something kind or to volunteer within the community.

And, honestly, it should.

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