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Knights of Pythias graveyard vandalized

A dozen gravestones were toppled sometime between Sunday and Tuesday last week at the Knights of Pythias Cemetery in Port Orchard.

Owners of the historical cemetery, Billy Wiley and Bill Ralph, discovered the vandalism Wednesday, where one or more individuals had downed several one-ton gravestones, including a small obelisk marking grave of South Kitsap pioneer Linda M. Gorst.

A large obelisk belonging to the Schold family was not toppled, but had been shifted less than an inch, indicating that someone had attempted to move it.

“It’s got a lot of history there,” Ralph, 86, of Port Orchard said.

The toppled stones were detached from a grounding stone, and when upped again will need to be adhered with an epoxy.

“I don’t know what kind of thrill they get from tipping a headstone over,” Ralph said.

Ralph and Wiley oversee the cemetery and keep it up through donations. Caretakers for an adjacent cemetery, Sunset Lane Memorial Park, agreed to reinstall the downed stones.

As of Friday, David David, 45, and Justin Coady, 21, had reinstalled all of the stones with a backhoe.

“It’s just sad, you know?” David said, pointing out the historical significance of many of the stones. “If it was their relatives, they wouldn’t have done it.”

Last month, the Knights of Pythias Cemetery was the site of a historical walk hosted by the Puget Sound Genealogical Society.

During the tour in which community members impersonated historical figures of the cemetery, Ann Northcutt, 55, discussed the problems of vandalism in cemeteries, pointing at a gravestone with red spray-paint on the back.

The events organizer, Sandie Morrison, 64, was saddened by the recent vandalism.

“I’m just heartbroken and dismayed that anybody would do that to people who have passed on,” Morrison said. “I just can’t imagine being that low.”

Morrison said the Genealogical Society works to bring awareness of graveyard vandalism, hoping that by making people more aware, it can be prevented.

“That’s one of our jobs,” she said. “To make people aware of the vandalism. It’s against the law, let alone the morality of it.”

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