Troop 169 improves cemetery, gives back to community

Caleb Theriault, Eagle Scout, left, and James Brewster, Life Scout, fill holes with cement Sept. 24 to support a bench at Porterdale Cemetery.

Caleb Theriault, Eagle Scout, left, and James Brewster, Life Scout, fill holes with cement Sept. 24 to support a bench at Porterdale Cemetery.

By Gerald Williams, Bayonet & Saber /

Ten Boy Scouts with Troop 169 of Midland, Georgia, built five benches and two markers for the Porterdale Cemetery in Columbus, Georgia, Sept. 24.

James Brewster, Life Scout, uses a level measuring tool to make sure that the weight of the bench is proportionate at Porterdale Cemetery Sept. 24.

James Brewster, Life Scout, uses a level measuring tool to make sure that the weight of the bench is proportionate at Porterdale Cemetery Sept. 24.

Pearse King, Life Scout and organizer of the event, planned and coordinated the task in order to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts organization.

“You have to plan and successfully complete a community project in order to be an Eagle Scout,” explained Pearse’s father, Steven King, Cavalry Branch, Doctrine developer.

“There aren’t any benches within the cemetery to provide shaded seating for those paying their respects, so this is a way to help the community,” said Pearse.

“These gravesites hold important people like Ma Rainey, a famous 1920s blues singer. So it is important to treat their resting ground with respect,” said Pearse.

According to Pearse, the historical markers were built in honor of Richard Porter who was a sexton of the cemetery during much of his lifetime. A marker was also placed for his wife, Nancy Rhodes-Porter, to commemorate their cooperative care for the cemetery.

Pearse stated that some of the money for the benches came from his own funds.

“I’ve had two lifeguard jobs since the summer at Breezeway and the Harris County Recreational Center. I’m not that much of a spender. The most I’ve had in my wallet is about 100 bucks. So it was nice to earn some money and put it to good use in the community. The lettering for the markers alone was about 400 dollars. But luckily most of the stone we’ll be using was donated to us by the Columbus Monument Company.”

Steven said the task included digging two holes in the ground as foundation for the bench’s legs. The legs would be placed on a group of bricks, which would in turn be filled with concrete to keep the legs sturdy. Once the cement was dry, the table for the bench would be glued on for people to sit on.

Steven said the project they created is uncommon compared to others they have done.

“Usually, for the community, the scouts will create picnic tables,” said Steven. “This project didn’t have anyone working on it.”

“There aren’t too many cemetery-based projects out there, so hopefully this will draw attention from other scouts in the future who are looking for ways to improve their community,” said Pearse.

“Only three percent of Boy Scouts actually become Eagle Scouts,” said Pearse. “So this task, while challenging, is something that I really want to complete.”

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