By Charles Wade-Palmer
A good samaritan has spent the last five years cleaning up stranger’s GRAVESTONES.
Andrew Lumish, 46, started scrubbing away at cemeteries five years ago and since posting pictures of his work online under the name of The Good Cemetarian he has become a viral sensation.
Andrew does not just clean the stones of ex-servicemen but spends time researching their lives which he documents across his social media pages with a 45,000 strong following.
Andrew said: “I get 200 messages a day from people asking how to do it and asking if I can clean a stone which belongs to their relative.
“It’s probably close to 40 hours a week that I spend responding to people online who are interested in what I do.
“What I do has turned into an international phenomenon of sorts. It’s really, really cool and I never expected such a reaction to it.”
The Florida based Good Cemeterian owns his own cleaning company but it has no links to his unusual hobby.
Andrew decided he would clean the headstones of people who died in combat fighting for the stars and stripes in world wars simply out of his respect for their sacrifice.
The attention the businessman has received for spending his spare time cleaning up old gravestones has became so huge that his previously uninterested son has picked up the brush.
Andrew said: “I stumbled upon a very old cemetery and it was beautiful so I started to photograph it, the photos were really nice it was so beautiful.
“I went to another one but the poor condition of the monuments to veterans in particular inspired me to learn how to restore them, I taught myself so they would look new again.
“My son is a teenager and he wasn’t going to help until he saw the attention I was getting and now he thinks it’s pretty cool and gets involved.
“He loves the history behind each stone, we discuss the battles they might have fought in and then see what we can find out online.
“When we’re cleaning together I turn to him and say, let’s learn about this personal as an individual, who they were, what they were about.
“You can find so much online and it’s easy to get access to find all about these people.”
Transforming a single decaying gravestone can take up to four months and no before and after photos are less than three weeks apart due to the time it takes for the product to work.
Andrew insists it cannot be done using a bottle of spray from the local DIY store which can if anything damage the stones further.
After the manufacturers of the government approved product required to take on tombstones saw heard about the Good Cemeterian they decided to supply Andrew free of charge.
“The before and after photos can be anything from three weeks to four months apart because it takes a very, very long time for the product to get to the point.
“The company who owns the special product I use to clean the stones, send me it for free on the back of seeing what I use it for.
“You can’t just go to the store and get it, it’s serious stuff and they ship it to me especially.”
The most instant and rewarding side to Andrew’s hobby which he dedicates at least one day a week to is hearing feedback from family members of those whose stones he cleaned.
No response has been as emotional as one girl who explained how her grandfather’s restored tombstone brought her dad to tears to the extent he spoke about him for the first time.
“I have met many descendents and the most memorable experience speaking to one was a girl who had gone to the cemetery to see her grandfather who she never met as he passed away before she was born.
“She would visit his grave quite often but one day she went it was completely restored so she was searching on social me
dia to find out who was responsible.
“She found me and told me that she and her father had a challenging relationship but he was very upset by the news his dad’s stone was restored.
“She showed him my restoration and he broke down, he was hysterical, it touched him he proceeded to answer all her questions about her grandfather who he had never spoken about before.
“My work allowed him to open up and tell her everything he previously refused to which is incredible to know that I can have such an effect on lives.”