RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Remembering loved ones you have lost can be particularly tough during the holiday season, especially if you are unable to visit them.
That’s where Billy Neumann comes in.
“A lot of history is inscribed, literately inscribed, right here in these headstones,” he told CBS2’s Meg Baker inside Hillside Cemetery in Rutherford, New Jersey.
For about four years, Neumann has gone out of his way to lay wreaths or grave blankets for people he never even met.
“I think they are just grateful to know that someone stood by their family’s grave and to actually remember that they’re here, their legacy is here,” he said. “A lot of it is really just, you know they would be doing this themselves, but they just can’t get up here.”
Neumann is the administrator for the Facebook page “You know you’re from Rutherford if…” As a historian, he helps people trace their genealogy.
“A lot of these names here I see and I know their families or I know of the people that are in the ground. It’s very much of a common, very warm thing to be able to commune with these people, even if they’re not going to talk back to you or anything,” he said.
He literately puts in the leg work to find grave sites for family trees.
“History tells us so much about ourselves and what our future will be,” he said.
Neumann said a sign of remembrance this time of year is just as important as Christmas dinner for some.
He doesn’t get paid for the service, families simply pay for the greenery.