Small Town News


Superior youth give time and effort to abandoned grave

The Superior Sun of Superior, Arizona

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It is easy to get caught up in the negative aspects to life. It is easy to start believing that all young people are stuck to their digital devices and not connected to their families let alone their communities. However that was not the case for seven young students from Superior.

Chanel Lopez and her grandfather, Rick Chavez, visit the Superior Fairview Cemetery regularly; often her friends join her and they spend time under the big Palo Verde tree. This summer while tending to family graves on the north side of the Fairview Cemetery they saw that there was a grave near their family plots that needed attention and beautification. The seven friends, in grades fourth through seventh, (Chanel Lopez, Julian Hernandez, Aliya Soto, Daren Hernandez, Nathan Duarte and McKenna Duarte) set out to complete a community project and hope that others in the community will be inspired to adopt a grave and help keep the cemetery clean.

At first they decided just to trim the weeds and clean around the grave, then they decided they should paint the edges of the grave. One side of the grave had a head stone the other side had a small metal sign that was hard to read and faded. They decided that the grave needed a proper headstone for the other person buried there. The group did some research and, with the help of local resident Cheryl Castro who works at the Pinal County Recorder's office, they were able to determine that James and Matilda Grey were buried there. Rick contacted the last living relative of the couple and obtained permission for the youth to work on the grave and purchase a headstone. Their last living relative is a son in law who lives in Phoenix and is unable to come and care for the grave anymore. These young adults didn't want Matilda's life to go unnoticed so they decided to raise money for her to have a headstone. With the help of Anthony Davis at Superior Mortuary, they found an affordable headstone that matched her husband's stone and raised the $300 needed. The kids put some of their own money but then they went to local businesses and put jars up to collect money. It took them about six weeks to have all the money they needed to buy the stone.

With Rick's help the group installed the headstone and finished painting the grave in mid October. They are not stopping at this beautification project, they would like to find other projects that need some beautification at their schools and around town that they could work on.

"We just want to make things beautiful" said Chanel Lopez.

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Original Publication Date: November 4, 2015

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