Dr. Bobby E. Coleman started his eulogy just after the sun broke through the clouds for the first time Thursday morning at Westover Memorial Park.
"We may not know who they are, but there's one thing for sure, God knows who they are," said the pastor of the Cornerstone Fellowship Church on Central Avenue. None of the Thompkins-related family came to Thursday's ceremony.
Dr. Coleman was presiding over the re-interment of 18 bodies exhumed during the expansion of Washington Road. The bodies had been part of the Thompkins family cemetery that was buried under the parking lot of the Milton Ruben car dealership for years. The graved were exhumed a little more than two years ago during the early stages of the road expansion.
On Thursday morning, 16 small white caskets - all 2 feet long with a teddy-bear insignia that read "Loved and Cherished" - were lined up at Westover.
"They'll be there for a long, long, long time," said Columbia County Assistant Coroner Vernon Collins.
Cemetery workers place one of the 18 sets of remains that were moved from Washington Road during a road expansion.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
On the ends of the 16 smaller graves, crews buried the two big vaults unearthed at the Thompkins ceremony - Michael Hunter's new plastic one on the left and the unopened cement one on the right.
Mr. Hunter's was the only grave that could be identified, and only because his original cement vault broke open when first unearthed.
"It's been a long trial to get this done," said Columbia County Coroner Tommy King as the last pieces of sod were placed on the new grave sites.
Still, one step remains - adding the 18 headstones for the graves. Mr. King said that should happen in the coming weeks.
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