A former White Rock resident visiting her father’s remains in South Surrey was devastated earlier this month to discover the Field of Honour where he was laid to rest overgrown to the point many headstones were all but hidden from view.
“I’m really angry,” Roslyn Patterson said during a May 6 visit to Victory Memorial Park.
“Everywhere else, it’s all beautifully maintained. This hasn’t been maintained in a long time.”
Patterson’s father, A.R. “Sid” Patterson, died in 1962, at the age of 36. He had served as an RCAF ground-crew engineer, and died as a result of a brain tumour linked to head trauma suffered during boxing matches, Patterson said.
Visiting his grave is something Patterson – who now lives in Kelowna – does whenever she is in town. Her son also routinely visits to pay respects.
He’s “faithful to a man he never, ever met,” Patterson said of her son.
Patterson said cemetery staff told her the Field of Honour maintenance issue – overgrown grass and moss on headstones – would be addressed after May 8, due to efforts that were underway to prepare for Mother’s Day visitors.
Contacted by Peace Arch News, Victory Memorial Park staff deferred questions to the Texas offices of Dignity Memorial.
Asked about the cemetery’s condition, a spokesman for the company replied May 12 by email:
“We are committed to providing all families with a well-maintained environment for visitation and remembrance. An attractive and serene environment is best attained through regular maintenance of the cemetery grounds. With the spring and summer season upon us, we’ve hired extra personnel to assist with the task and ensure the grounds are properly maintained for our families.”
The spokesman later confirmed the comment pertained “to the entire cemetery, including the Field of Honour.”
Patterson said it was “absolutely unbelievable” that maintenance of the area dedicated to veterans was seemingly put on the backburner.
“The first priority should be the veterans,” she said. “It was just so sad.”