Geraldton Cemetery’s first grave restored to former glory

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Adam PoulsenGeraldton Guardian
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Harry Taylor and Darrell Ortom at Ethelbert Gibbs' restored grave.
Camera IconHarry Taylor and Darrell Ortom at Ethelbert Gibbs' restored grave. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian, Adam Poulsen

After his grave lay neglected for decades, the first man buried at Geraldton Cemetery finally has a fitting memorial.

Ethelbert Gibbs died aged 58 after succumbing to an unknown illness.

He was buried on July 22, 1930, and his headstone was later erected and inscribed with the wrong year of death.

After 89 years of exposure to the elements, Mr Gibbs’ grave was in a sad state, its rusted iron fence enclosing a broken and toppled headstone.

Although the grave licence expired many years ago, the Geraldton Cemetery Board sought permission under the WA Cemeteries Act to refurbish the monument because Mr Gibbs was deemed a “prominent person”.

Earlier this month, cemetery superintendent Harry Taylor and leading hand Darrell Ortom pieced together the original headstone and restored the historic grave to its former dignity.

Mr Gibbs died on July 21, 1930, at his Fitzgerald Street home.

The Geraldton Guardian and Express reported he was survived by a widow and three children.

“Deceased, who was about 58 years of age, was employed as a clerk in the goods department of the railways, and had been with the department for very many years,” the July 22 report said.

“His health of recent years had been very indifferent, and during the last few months he steadily became worse.”

Mr Gibbs’ grave is in the Methodist section at the cemetery.

Before: The broken headstone.
Camera IconBefore: The broken headstone. Credit: Supplied, Adam Poulsen
After: Ethelbert Gibbs' restored grave.
Camera IconAfter: Ethelbert Gibbs' restored grave. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian, Adam Poulsen

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