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LaVO: The 'Tidy Tombstones' man

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Jim Davis’ mission is to resurrect old cemeteries and historic gravestones in Bucks County.

One of the great joys in Jim Davis’ life is rediscovering messages from the dearly departed. That is, those who had departed so long ago that their grave markers have lost inspirational messages due to ravages of the centuries.

Jim is the self-described “Tidy Tombstones” man of Bucks County. His passion is to bring stones back to life, so to speak.

When something really memorable emerges, he’s apt to call pal Sally Sondesky of the Bensalem Historical Society with unbridled enthusiasm. “Sally, you can’t believe what I just found!” he’ll exclaim, his voice pitched higher.

To me, cemeteries are quiet places for contemplation where you can sense the passage of time in the eulogies people leave behind in marble and granite. I had assumed fallen and cracked tombstones were the product of vandals. Not necessarily, said Jim when I rendezvoused with him, Sally and her cousin Peggy Thullen at an ancient family cemetery near Jim’s home in the Glen Ashton section of Bensalem.

In most cases vandalism’s not to blame. It’s weather. Cyclical rain, ice and thawing can move headstones inch by inch until they topple over or crack in half from sheathing.

That’s where Jim comes in. His restorations........

© The Intelligencer