C&M Headstone Restoration was conceived by Charles and Monta Vanover when they decided to transform their hobby into a full-time gig. Over the last three years, the business has restored more than 1,000 monuments.
Before starting the business, the Vanovers were conducting research on their family tree and discovered that several of their tombstones were broken or damaged. After a workshop in Arkansas — where they learned the ins and outs of the industry — they began restoring their relatives’ tombstones.
“We started out working on our families’ sites and helping out friends when they asked,” Charles Vanover said. “We got started at Brushy Fork Cemetery in West Daviess County. Word spread and it took off from there.”
There are several rules on products and tools that can be used when restoring headstones. Ascending demand paired with a rising cost of chemicals is what ultimately led the Vanovers to convert their practice into a business.
They will clean and refurbish any tombstone, but can only offer repairs on ones that predate the 1920s.
“We can put back together older tombstones if they’re broken, but the modern polished granite ones are generally too heavy to do many repairs,” he said. “I’m a hands-on guy … I like seeing the before and afters.”
During his efforts, Vanover will occasionally stumble upon an interesting engraving or story that piques his interest. He also added that they’ve restored a wide array of Civil War-era tombstones and even one that dates all the way back to 1809.
They most recently restored the monument of legendary bluegrass artist Bill Monroe in Ohio County.
Charles is a Navy veteran and retired school teacher whose career spans the area; he started the NJROTC program at Daviess County High School. He and Monta are both Daviess County natives and Apollo High School graduates.
“We always work together or have someone with us because cemeteries are a dangerous place,” he said. “If a damaged stone falls it could severely injure someone.”
Charles is always willing to train whoever might be interested in learning about the restoration process.
To learn more about C&M or to view some before-and-after photos, visit their Facebook Page.