“The guardian is gone, and his name was Tom Cole.
For eight years, he kept watch over the Union Cemetery. He would walk among the tombstones and tell stories about the names he saw, particularly the war veterans from long ago. He researched it. So, he knew.
He pulled weeds, cleaned tombstones, shooed away loiterers and picked up and piled sticks at the base of the cemetery’s sturdy oaks. Last year, he convinced the city to put up a 25-foot pole and fly an American flag for everyone to see as a memorial for the veterans buried there.
He cared about that cemetery off South Elm Street because he lived beside it — in a patch of woods where he built a home out of tarps, wood and telephone wire. He never wanted to leave. He told people that, especially when they would look at him and implore, “You got to get out of the cold, Tom.”
He didn’t. He stayed there until he died.”