NeighborhoodsDeWitt - St. Johns

Actions

'It's a sign of respect;' St. Johns man picks up hobby cleaning gravestones during pandemic

Cleaning gravestones in Mt. Rest Cemetery in St. Johns
Posted at 5:31 PM, Apr 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 22:16:52-04

ST. JOHNS, Mich. —

When you think about picking up a new hobby, you might think of reading, knitting, or fishing. Michael Pohl decided on a unique hobby that's a lot closer to death.

'It's a sign of respect;' St. Johns man picks up hobby cleaning gravestones during pandemic

You might find Pohl among the many gravestones in the Mt. Rest Cemetery in St. Johns.

"Yeah, there’s a lot of them out here," Pohl said.

Cleaning gravestones in Mt. Rest Cemetery in St. Johns
Michael Pohl picked up the hobby of cleaning old gravestones during the pandemic.

He's paying his respects in a unique way to those who have died.

Cleaning gravestones in Mt. Rest Cemetery in St. Johns
Pohl said he goes around and finds gravestones that need cleaning the most.

“I clean up the gravestones that you can’t read anymore," Pohl said.

He picked up the hobby to stay busy.

“I’m a line cook at the Wheel Inn," Pohl said. "I keep getting laid off because of COVID so I found a little hobby in doing this.”

Not because anyone's asked him to, but just because he wants to.

“Nobody’s asked me to do this. I kind of just walk around and pick one," Pohl said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Cleaning gravestones in Mt. Rest Cemetery in St. Johns
Pohl said he's cleaned gravestones of all sizes, but the bigger onces can take an entire day to clean.

He got the idea from his other hobbies over the years.

“I like to restore things, so this just came about,” said Pohl.

After researching what he needed to get the job done, he contacted the cemetery to get permission and got to work.

“I researched it. What I could use and couldn’t use to not damage the grass, not kill the stone," Pohl said. "I use D/2 to clean them. That’s the only thing you can use.”

Cleaning supplies used for cleaning gravestones
Pohl uses soft bristle brushes, D/2 cleaner and water to clean off each stone.

D/2 is a stain remover specifically made for mold, mildew, algae, lichens and air pollutants. It contains no bleach, salts or acids so it won't damage the stones or the grass around them.

The oldest stone he cleaned was from 1870, but on Tuesday, he found one that dates back to 1855.

Oldest gravestone found so far
When cleaning on Tuesday, Pohl revealed a gravestone from 1855.

Pohl said he can do about four average-sized stones a day, but the bigger ones could take all day.

“All the moss was just buried in there and didn’t want to come out,” Pohl said.

Pohl said he keeps going because uncovering what's underneath the years of build-up is rewarding.

“It’s a sign of respect," Pohl said. "It's really gratifying being able to read something you haven't been able to read for years."

Cleaning gravestones in Mt. Rest Cemetery in St. Johns
Michael Pohl picked up a new, unique hobby during the pandemic that honors the dearly departed.

Want to see more local news? Visit the FOX47News Website.

Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.

Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox.

Select from these options: Breaking News, Severe Weather, School Closings, Daily Headlines, and Daily Forecasts.

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Lauren Shields

Lauren Shields

8:25 PM, Aug 21, 2019

Your Neighborhood Reporter

Lauren Shields