Friends of Eastern Cemetery
Andy has dedicated hundreds of hours, thousands of dollars, and his own personal equipment to clean up Louisville's largest abandoned cemetery.
Eastern Cemetery is a 30 acre tract of land in the heart of the Highlands that has been abandoned for more than 20 years. In the late 1980's the company that cared for this cemetery dissolved and left no one to care for it. Over time the land was desecrated by vandals, used as a dumping site, and left to overgrow and decay with every passing season. Families would no longer visit the the graves of their loved ones because of its depressing views and the heart-wrenching depression that only added to the existing mourning of those were left behind to grieve.
This all changed early last year. Andy Harpole couldn't stand the site of this once-hallowed ground. With the city and state refusing to care for it, Andy began to visit the cemetery every weekend and brought with him his own equipment, gas, and stalwart work ethic. After only a few months Andy was able to convince a handful of other people to join him. Over time the group, now known as "Friends of Eastern Cemetery," has grown and number over 30 strong. Every Sunday, from 11am to 4pm Andy and all the volunteers work at Eastern Cemetery to restore, preserve and protect this once-forgotten cemetery. The grass gets cut, dead trees are hauled out, graffiti and spray paint has been removed, and the buildings now sport a brand new coat of paint. It actually looks like a cemetery again.
Andy was able to arrange, through a private donation, over 1,000 American flags. This past Memorial day families of all walks of life came out to decorate graves of all the soldiers, sailors, and marines that rest in Eastern. Families have started to return and the cemetery is starting to have a sense of grace once more.
Andy has poured his heart out, along with his own equipment and thousands of dollars of his personal earnings, to restore Eastern and has never asked for anything in return. For this, and all of his efforts, Andy is admired by not only the families of those who have relatives in Eastern, but by his fellow volunteers as well.