A Dell Rapids Marine veteran gives back to his community

Local News

DELL RAPIDS, S.D. (KELO) — A man in Dell Rapids is giving back to his community in a way that people may not often consider.

Steve Sittig spends time at cemeteries around Dell Rapids cleaning headstones that have dirt, lichens or other debris on them. Some headstones date back to the Civil War-era.

“To me, it helps the appearance of the cemetery, you know, and the fact that I had kind of a small part in making it look nicer just by spending sometimes 20-25 minutes on a headstone. It’ll make your day,” Sittig said.

Sittig started cleaning headstones in the Dell Rapids area four years ago. And the reason he decided to do it has meaning.

“My brother was dealing with his colon cancer, and my parents are buried up here, and you just kind of wander and you notice, especially veterans headstones and there were the small infant with the lambs on them that were, you’d hate to say neglected, but like I say, families move. There aren’t anyone around. It kind of made you sad,” he said.

Sittig is a member of the Dell Rapids Cemetery Board and a veteran, too. He found a way to clean the headstones on the internet.

“I use a solution called Wet and Forget. It’s like for mold and mildew for lawn furniture,” he said. “Once you spray it on head the headstone, let it soak in there a little bit, and then I have a little power washer that only has like 300 psi.”

Daniel T. DeVaney is also a member of the cemetery board.

“Steve took this upon himself,” he said. “There’s just a lot of headstones that have growths on them for whatever reasons. Lichens and things like that. He cleans up the stones. Makes them look better. A lot of them are so covered up, you can’t even see the names on them.”

Some of the headstones that resonate personally with Sittig are those of veterans.

“We need to honor our veterans, and I’m just hoping maybe in 40 years there’ll be some gentleman or whatever, will maybe do the same thing for me,” Sittig said.

Sittig does most of the cleaning on his own. He hosted a workshop just before Memorial Day to show others in the community how he does it.

See photos of some of headstones Sittig has cleaned below.

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