Strangers' efforts bring veteran's headstone from trash to proper resting place

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by CARLA WADE

Bio | Email | Follow: @CarlaNWade

WFAA

Posted on November 1, 2013 at 10:31 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 2 at 12:09 AM

DALLAS -- Headstones don’t just tell us where a body is buried, they also tell us a tiny bit about the person and the life they once lived.

When Louis Kenneybrew found a marble headstone among the trash and scrap metal he was collecting, he just knew it could not sit in the back of his pickup truck.

“I figured -- well, I didn't figure,” he said. “I knew that whoever it belongs to wanted it, and so I did my best to try and find who it belongs to.”

He asked around town. He even asked police officers what he should do with it. Then he went to his friend, Flora Cook.

Armed with the man’s name, Louis Martin, the dates of his birth and death, and the knowledge that he was an Army veteran, she began trying to find the dead man’s family.

“I looked in the phone book under the Martins,” she said. “And I called all the Martins, and nobody knew Mr. Martin.”

They eventually located an address for a sister, but discovered she was also dead.

Still, Cook didn't give up.

"This could be my family," she said.

Cook went to her sister, Linda Hodo. Hodo began making lists of places where the man might have been buried.

Calls first led nowhere, but she persevered.

“I said, 'God please give me some direction,'” she recalled.

Hodo called around to different cemeteries and veteran’s organizations. She was finally able to verify that Louis Martin was buried in Lincoln Memorial Cemetery. A $250.00 fee was all that stood between the marker and the ground.

One of the many calls Hodo made was to American Legion Post 368. Without hesitation, she said they consulted with their membership and volunteered to foot the bill and place the stone on Martin’s grave.

“He was a veteran.” Hodo said. “That was enough for me. That was enough for me.”

Now everyone will know at least that much when they visit the place where Martin was laid to rest.

E-mail cwade@wfaa.com

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