Weatherford Democrat

Local News

August 31, 2012

Family takes on project of marking veterans' graves

PARKER COUNTY — What started out as a casual conversation between two friends turned into month-long project, benefitting veterans, for Mickey and Janet Hoefer and their grandson.

“Charles White, who worked with Cotten-Bratton Funeral Home, and I were talking one day and he happened to mention something about having veteran grave markers in the back of one of the warehouses,” Mickey Hoefer said.

Hoefer spent four years with the U.S. Air Force, from 1953 to 1957, flying Convair B-36’s.

“None of [the markers] had come home from the funeral home, and him being a veteran, he got so upset that he said ‘I’m going to see that those get out,’” Janet Hoefer said.

With about 37 markers found in various places inside the warehouse, the couple, who devote themselves to cleaning and improving Annetta Cemetery, began the monumental task of finding the gravesites.

“A lot of them weren’t even from the area,” Mickey Hoefer said. “We went to the library and the ladies up there were awfully helpful in showing us the Ancestry.com website. A lot of them showed up, but then we began going through obituaries from the Democrat.”

With some gravesites completely unmarked, in some cases, cemetery plot blueprints had to be reviewed.

With just the birth and death dates to go on in several cases, the Hoefers worked hard to track down veteran gravesites in Marlin, Poolville, East Greenwood and Graham, and have shipped markers to as far away as Nebraska, Missouri and Oklahoma.

“It’s an astonishing thing to me why some of the families who filled out the form with the government [to receive a veteran marker] never came back and asked where they were,” Mickey Hoefer said.

The markers, which range from granite to bronze and differ in size as well, can be used to mark the graves as a footstone or headstone.

“We just take them out there, dig a little hole, and set them in,” Hoefer said.

The project has been going on for a more than a month, but the Hoefers have managed to erect 21 of the 37 markers onto graves.

“It’s gratifying to me to get it done. Even if nobody else cares, it makes no difference because it makes me feel good,” he said.

Hoefer added that some of the gravesites they’ve stumbled upon haven’t necessarily been abandoned — many, in fact, have been maintained with flowers and all.

“Some of these families might not ever have even known their relative was in the military,” he said. “I hope people appreciate it.”

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