Congratulations to Theron Rogers our featured volunteer of the month for April, 2021! We’d like to recognize his extraordinary efforts in documenting graves- all the while enjoying the ride out on his motorcycles. He’s photographed, along with adding GPS locations, most of the cemeteries in Northeast Georgia and also cemeteries from a couple of counties in South Carolina. He has future plans to travel to Pennsylvania and upstate New York to photograph, as that is where his family is from.
Theron is an IBM retiree and started with the company when it was making clocks. He was on the ground floor when IBM began making computers in the 1950s. He enjoys photography, computers, genealogy, and motorcycling. He volunteers at Find a Grave® and joins all his hobbies together to assist others in their genealogy work. He’s been a member for fourteen years and his goal has always been, “One correct memorial with a headstone photo for every deceased person.” And at 82, he still strives to meet that goal!
He told us how he spent one of his recent days. In total he rode 98 miles, found and photographed nine small older cemeteries, corrected the location of three others, and documented a previously unidentified cemetery. Then he created the new cemetery on Find a Grave, uploaded the photos, and reconciled all the markers and memorials for the nine cemeteries. While on his ride, he also identified five more cemeteries that are on private land and will get approval before recording them.
THERON, HIS HARLEY, and GOLDWING TRIKE
I have a Harley motorcycle that I ride when I am by myself and a Goldwing trike when I take my wife along. We have toured all the lower 48 states and 5 countries in Europe (The Alps) by motorcycle. Our longest trip was 8,088 miles over 27 days. Most of our vacations are on the motorcycle, about 4,000 miles a year. After I retired, I started doing photo requests -riding my bike and photographing headstones. After getting several requests at different times for the same cemetery I decided to photograph the whole cemetery so I would not have to go back. I then set a goal to do the whole county. I now have done most of the counties in NE GA. My interest in business and genealogy told me that no record was good unless it was accurate and complete. So, I started reconciling each cemetery. I edit each photo and update each memorial, often researching family groups on Ancestry, Newspapers and Family Search. When I am done the whole cemetery is as accurate as I can get it. By photographing the whole cemetery, you know who is there and who is not there. You can respond to many requests right away because you know there is no marker. I file all my photos on an external drive so I can respond if anyone needs a photo. I can take it with me to use on any computer and on my laptop when I travel. Even if I am only traveling to my porch! I currently have over 322,000 headstone photos that were taken in 1128 cemeteries I have photographed in 5 states.
An interesting story from my cemetery career: When I was growing up in upstate New York my parents were friends with a couple, Rev William and Grace Cutts, who went to be missionaries in Papua, New Guinea. Seventy years later, while photographing a cemetery on a hillside in Northeast Georgia, I photographed their headstones. What a huge surprise to find them in that cemetery! Then another surprise, I found out that their son, who I remember when he was a baby, has a house in my hometown! I have been able to continue the connection of our families through our ongoing relationship. He went to Papua as a 2-year-old and at 70 still serves as a second-generation missionary in Papua.
Theron’s efforts are truly wonderful! Here’s an example from one cemetery where he has photographed and added GPS locations for 6,773 memorials. This image is only a portion of the cemetery!
Our accolades to you for your extraordinary work in cemeteries! We are so glad that you are a Find a Grave member and appreciate all your efforts in recording and memorializing those that have passed.
We welcome your suggestions for Volunteer of the Month. If you’d like to submit a volunteer for consideration in future months, please send an email with details of their work to firstname.lastname@example.org.