(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A lone bugler played taps on Friday in a St. Joseph cemetery as, about 100 years after his death, a headstone was dedicated to the memory of a soldier who fought to preserve the Union in the U.S. Civil War.
Paris Richey, a former St. Joseph resident served in Co. I, 4th Iowa Cavalry Regiment during the war between the states. Born in 1835, he enlisted in the Union Army when he was 25. After the war, he moved back to St. Joseph where he lived the last 40 years of his life.
When Richey was buried at Mt. Auburn Cemetery in St. Joseph in 1919, a small brick marked his final resting place. On Friday, that was put right with the dedication of a simple headstone, provided by the Veterans’ Affairs Administration in Washington, D.C.
The service included full military honors and featured a bugler, multi-gun salute, and a presentation of the Flag and Presidential Memorial Certificate.
Among the dozens who attended the ceremony was Richey’s grandson Tom.
“He was in the military,” Tom Richey explained. “That should do it.”
Tom’s wife Patsy, who found Richey’s grave and was instrumental in arranging for a headstone to be erected.
“Anybody in the military deserves a headstone,” said Patsy Richey.
She found Private Richey’s stone marker and, with the help of other family members, started gathering information about his service. The family then reached out to Meierhoffer Funeral Home for help.
Jeff Redel, of Meierhoffer Funeral Home, wrote the Veteran’s Affairs Administration in Washington, D.C. The V.A. provides a headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world regardless of the vet’s date of death.
Together the group’s dedication paid off.
The V.A. sent a white marble headstone for Private Richey.
“It’s just kind of one that all came together and wrapped things up for a family who was dealing with a loss,” said Jane Graves, coordinator of community outreach at Meierhoffer Funeral Home. “Just to hear during the ceremony what this man did at that time in the military and how his family celebrates that. It’s just such a neat story.”
Richey’s grandson, Tom, said it’s hard to put into words what the service meant to him.
“We can’t even begin to put a price on anything like that,” said Tom Richey. “We just hope they continue what they did today.”