Coast man’s organization to put headstones on unmarked graves

Published 5:52 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Jackson County man has set out on a mission to place headstones on the unmarked graves of children.

Darren Versiga started the nonprofit organization, known as the Kenneth Versiga and Chester VanDevender Guardian Angels Foundation, which aims to provide the headstones.

“My hope is everyone who hears this story is touched by it and either participates in some form or goes to a cemetery in their hometown to put a marker on a child’s resting place,” Versiga said. “Every child deserves to be remembered.”

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The organization is named for Versiga’s father, Kenneth, who died in 2003 and is buried in the Jackson County Memorial Gardens Cemetery. While visiting his father’s grave, Versiga said he and his wife often noticed an unmarked child’s grave. The grave belonged to 14-month-old Coleman Lynn Breazeale, who died while taking a bath in 2000.

After a year of seeing the small grave unmarked, Versiga and his wife, Jessica, made the decision to purchase a headstone.

Versiga said the next headstone will be placed for a one-day-old infant boy who has been buried for the past 49 years in Jackson County Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Pascagoula.

Several organizations are helping Versiga’s organization. Mississippi Monument and Granite is supplying headstones at a reduced rate and Church on the Rock parishioners have donated nearly $5,000 for the project.