Special memorial bench stolen from Clifton Cemetery

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CLIFTON, S.C. (WSPA) – The Clifton community is asking for help after a special bench was stolen from a graveyard.

7 News spoke with the family of the man whose memorial is now missing from its spot in the Clifton Cemetery.

“I don’t know if he had much more than a sixth grade education, but, every time I went down there, he taught me something new,” Elijah Garrett said about his grandfather, Kenneth Wilson.

Garrett and Wilson shared a very special bond, and they spent a lot of quality time together at a unique place: the historic Clifton Cemetery.

“The whole place was so grown up,” Garrett said. “I wouldn’t have known it was a cemetery had he not told me and kind of recruited me. I was probably 13 coming down here, pushing a lawnmower.”

Garrett told 7 News his grandfather spent several years voluntarily taking care of the historic graveyard–even in his 80’s–and the weather didn’t stop him.

“Probably not physically qualified to be out here, pushing a lawnmower in the summer heat, but he did it anyway,” Garrett said. “I don’t think he was looking for any kind of recognition or anything for it.”

Garrett said Wilson had a lot of respect for those who are buried there.

“He loved his country, that’s for sure. I think he loved the servicemen and women,” Garrett said. “Every Veterans Day, he would come down here and put little American flags on every grave by himself.”

Wilson worked at the cemetery until he passed away in 2016. And his hard work didn’t go unnoticed. An Eagle Scout built a bench for folks to have a place to stop by and remember him.

“It was nice, it really was,” Kathy Daniel, with the Clifton Improvement Association, said. “It was a big bench–enough for three people to sit on.”

Kathy Daniel is the president of the Clifton Improvement Association and oversees the cemetery. She said the bench had become a fixture there.

But, sadly, that bench–along with the American flag that flew over it–were recently stolen.

“It was disappointing, that’s for sure,” Garrett said. “Kind of makes you hurt more than angry.”

Garrett and the Clifton community are hoping the person or people who took the bench will return it. They said no questions will be asked–they just want that special memorial back where it belongs.

“I don’t know if there’s any way to find it, but, if someone does, I would love to see it put back, and my whole family would appreciate it,” Garrett said.

“No big deal. Just help us get it put back,” Daniel added. “We forgive you. We don’t even have to know your name.”

The Clifton Improvement Association told 7 News, if the bench isn’t returned in the near future, they plan to replace it with two benches. One, of course, would have a plaque to honor Wilson and there would be an extra plaque for the Eagle Scout who built the original bench.

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